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Nurses Prevail in Lawsuit for Unpaid Overtime After Multiple Appeals


As this blog as discussed, it is important for employers to make sure that employees are given proper rest breaks. If, for whatever reason, one or more of those breaks are missed, the employees must be properly compensated for that missed time. For all non-exempt employees, that compensation should be the normal overtime rate of one and one-half times the employee’s regular hourly rate.

Nurses frequently miss their scheduled rest breaks due to emergencies in patient care that cannot wait. In a recent class action against Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, approximately 1,200 current and former nurses of the hospital are due to receive compensation for missed rest breaks.

Initially, affected nurses filed a grievance through their union after members of the bargaining unit discovered there was no provision in the nurses’ packets for additional pay for working through a rest period.

After an arbitrator’s ruling found in favor of the union, nurses began receiving 8.5 hours worth of pay for working a standard 8-hour day. However, while this was supposed to make up for two missed fifteen-minute rest periods, it did not properly compensate the nurses for their missed rest periods. It only provided the nurses with straight time for the missed breaks, which are supposed to be paid at an overtime rate.

The case worked its way up through the court system and received differing decisions as it did so. The initial trial court found in favor of the union, but the hospital won the first appeal. The union then won the final appeal in the state Supreme Court, which did not, however, find that the hospital was guilty of “willful violation” of labor laws. Had the court decided that it did qualify as a “willful violation”, it would have doubled the hospital’s penalty. As it is, the nurses will receive about $52,000 in back wages and interest. The hospital is also ordered to pay an additional $200,000 in legal fees.

The attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against Hospitals and other large Healthcare employers for failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Aurora and Elgin. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Naperville and Downers Grove overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago wage and hour attorney by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.