The Pennsylvania Third Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the claims of five Philadelphia-area nurses who claimed that the healthcare systems they worked for systematically underpaid them for hours worked.
The appeal stemmed from a 2012 trial court’s dismissal of five cases in which the nurses claimed that their employers were in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when they failed to compensate them for the full time that they worked, including overtime.
The original lawsuit, Taylor, Melton, Jackson, Phillips, Rice and Boolin v. McLane Foodservice, Inc., was filed by nurses and other patient-care professionals who worked in Philadelphia-area healthcare systems. They alleged that their employers implemented three unlawful timekeeping and pay policies that failed to compensate them for all hours worked. Specifically, the cited practices included:
- Meal break deductions: a timekeeping policy in which 30 minutes of pay was automatically deducted for daily meal breaks without ensuring that the employees actually received a break
- Unpaid pre- and post-schedule work policy: employees were expected to complete work before and/or after their shifts but were prohibited from recording any time worked outside of their scheduled shift
- Unpaid employee trainings: The nurses alleged they attended compensable trainings and did not get paid.
The court dismissed the initial complaint, stating that the nurses failed to adequately provide proof that an employee-employer relationship existed or that their claims for unpaid work fell under the FLSA overtime or minimum wage provisions.
The nurses appealed the court’s decision arguing that they were not paid for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week and that their claims for gap time were within the scope of the FLSA.
In order for their claims to be covered under the FLSA overtime provisions the nurses would have had to prove that they were not paid for work that exceeded 40 hours per week. The court found the allegations in this case to be insufficient. None of the nurses were able to provide a single instance in which they had not been paid for time worked in excess of 40 hours.
The Third Circuit also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims that gap time fell under the scope of FLSA. Gap time or “pure gap time” wages refer to straight time wages for unpaid work during pay periods without overtime. The judge decided in this case that gap time was not covered by FLSA because the amount worked did not qualify for overtime. Additionally, pure gap time was not covered by minimum wage provisions because the nurses’ average salary exceeded the minimum wage.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers of Ezold Law Firm, P.C.: Experienced FLSA Litigators
Employees suing for overtime under FLSA must make a plausible claim for the overtime worked. They should be able to provide proof that they typically worked 40 hours per week, worked extra hours during a typical workweek, and were not paid for the extra hours over 40 that were worked.
Our Philadelphia wage dispute lawyers have extensive experience in Pennsylvania wage and hour law representing employees who have cause to believe they have been underpaid. We also represent employers who may be facing FLSA violations or contract disputes in Pennsylvania. For more information about FLSA overtime statutes and how they may apply to your employment or to a Philadelphia business, call the Philadelphia employment and labor lawyers at the Ezold Law Firm, P.C. today at 610-660-5585 or contact us online.