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Fair Labor Practices Being Increasingly Violated Against Nurses Post-Pandemic

Nurse Wage and Hour ClaimsThe largest labor force in the healthcare system is nurses. They are critical to the treatment and care of patients as the healthcare system shifts focus from illnesses to the patients themselves and promoting health. Throughout the pandemic and post-pandemic, more and more nurses have switched to a travel-focused career rather than stationary. It allows hospitals to practice unfair labor and wage violations when they hire contingent workers, such as traveling nurses, to fill the gaps in employment.

If you are a nurse who suspects that your employer is engaging in unfair or illegal practices, contact an employment law attorney at Console & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation.

Do Hospitals Have to Comply with FLSA for Nurses?

Yes, hospitals and other healthcare organizations must comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for any employee, including nurses. State law and the Fair Labor Standards Act state that employers pay any employee the minimum wage. When an employee, such as a traveling nurse, can qualify for a state or federal minimum wage, the employer must pay the higher of the two rates. Employees must also receive overtime pay in the form of time and a half of the wage rate. Some employees may fall under the FLSA minimum rate of pay and exemptions for overtime pay.

Nurses may qualify for the learned professional employee exemption if they meet specific requirements, including being paid a minimum of $684 a week, and the work must require “advanced knowledge.” Advanced knowledge has to be acquired through prolonged study and in the field of learning or science. Despite clear-cut rules and certain healthcare organizations failing to meet these requirements, attempts at lawsuits for FLSA violations aren’t always successful.

The Most Common FLSA Violations

Listed below are the most common FLSA violations faced by employees, especially nurses and traveling nurses.

Meal Breaks

In order for an employer to deduct pay for a meal break, defined as 30 minutes or more, the employee must not do any work during the time designated for the break.

Working During Unauthorized Hours

Often, an employer will claim that they should not be obligated to pay a wage or overtime for an employee who works hours outside their scheduled hours because it was not permitted. If an employer knows that a nurse is working outside of their regular hours for any reason, they are required to pay the wage or overtime for those hours, even if it was not officially permitted.

Rounding Hours

According to the FLSA, employers can track employees’ time to the nearest quarter hour. If it is found that an employer rounds down, they may be in violation of the FLSA.

Training and Seminars

Any mandatory meetings, training events, or lectures are considered payable work hours so long as attendance wasn’t voluntary, outside of typical work hours, and an employee did productive work during the event. If those requirements weren’t met, then an employer might be able to disprove the claim of violation.

Travel Time

Being paid for time traveled is especially relevant to travel nurses. If an employee has to travel to complete their duties, that time must be compensated.

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Violations Against Travel Nurses

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for travel nurses was at an all-time high. A career path that attracted nurses due to high pay is plagued with employers trying to cut costs where they can now that the worst of the pandemic has passed. Employers will often cut wages drastically when it comes time to renew, and travel nurses are often left with no choice but to accept those wage decreases. FLSA violation claims by travel nurses have increased recently as they are fed up with unfair and illegal practices by healthcare organizations.

Employers Take Advantage of Travel Nurses’ Vulnerabilities

Employers have the advantage when it comes to their demands on employees. Nurses are often faced with the very real possibility of having to accept lower wages or be out of a job. Being a travel nurse, while initially attractive with higher wages, can also rack up costs due to the nature of the job. Travel expenses and not having stable housing can often lead a travel nurse to just accept whatever pay an employer offers because they have no choice. Employers know this and take advantage by offering higher wages, then slashing them.

What Can Nurses Do to Recover Their Wages?

No Fee PromiseIf you are a nurse and believe that your employer has engaged in illegal and unethical practices, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. This applies to all nurses employed by a healthcare company as it is often, but not always the case that nurses are treated the same across the board within healthcare organizations.

It is often difficult for nurses to pursue claims against an employer due to the employers citing the learned professional employee exemptions. That’s why it’s essential for any nurse to contact an employment law attorney to learn more about their rights and what they can do if they believe their employer is engaging in such practices.

If you are a nurse who is facing unfair labor and wage violations from your employer, the wage and hour litigation attorneys at Console & Associates P.C. are here to help. If you’re ready to move forward with your claim, contact our attorneys today at 866-778-5500 or complete our contact form  for a free, no-obligation consultation. And, if you decide to work with us, we will not bill you for our services unless we can connect you with meaningful compensation, either through a jury verdict or settlement. We will attentively listen to your story, answer your questions, and offer you guidance about how you may be able to pursue a claim against the parties responsible for your injuries or loss.