It’s commonly known that people who work in a medical field are dedicated individuals who will often go above and beyond for patient care. In a hospital setting, this frequently means skipping breaks and meal times in order to provide the best patient care possible, both because they are dedicated and because many hospitals are chronically understaffed. Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that a St. Augustine hospital will have to pay for the times that employees had to work through their scheduled breaks
Florida Hospital Owes More Than 100 Employees Unpaid Overtime
After being alerted to a potential issue the Department of Labor started an investigation at Flager Hospital Inc. to determine if the hospital was failing to pay employees fair wages. What the team found was that the hospital had failed to pay any employees who missed their break because they couldn’t stop caring for patients – meaning that they worked through their unpaid breaks. The hospital did that by automatically deducting time for scheduled breaks – whether or not the employee took that break or not. The Emergency and Labor and Delivery departments were the most impacted.
Now nearly 141 employees will be receiving unpaid overtime wages and the hospital will have to pay $107,185 total.
Employees Must Be Paid For All Time Worked
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all employees must be paid for the time they work. If an employee works more than 40 hours a week, then the wage paid must be one and a half times the normal hourly rate. Employers, however, don’t always follow these rules and use tricks to try and get away without paying fair wages.
Common Tactics Used By Employers To Avoid Paying Overtime
The following are a few of the ways in which employers try to avoid paying overtime include:
- Failing to properly track hours: Like the hospital in this most recent case, employers frequently fail to properly track the actual hours worked by their employees. This may include breaks that weren’t taken, errands run for the company on an employee’s personal time, or time spent correcting a mistake.
- Misclassifying employees: There are certain types of employees that exempt from overtime pay. Many employers try to classify employees so that they can tell them they are exempt.
- Unlawfully deducting wages: Some employers will force employees to pay for things like uniforms. However, if these deductions take an employee’s wages below the minimum wage, that is unlawful.
What Should I Do If I Suspect I’m Not Being Paid Fairly?
If you believe that you are owed unpaid wages there are steps you should take.
- Speak with your employer. There may be a simple answer, such as a mistake that your employer isn’t aware of and is willing to correct.
- Contact the Department of Labor. You can make a complaint with the Department of Labor. Learn more by visiting their website.
- Speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you seek justice and can fight aggressively for the wages that you are owed.
Can My Employer Fire Me If I Take Legal Action?
Technically, employer retaliation is against the law. However, since employment is “at-will”, this means that an employer can fire you for any reason. If they don’t fire you, they can make your life very difficult while at work. This could mean a demotion, the reduction of hours, or even a pay reduction.
This isn’t meant to scare you but is instead intended to inform you of some of the difficulties that you may face if you choose to file an unpaid wage lawsuit against your employer.
The attorneys at Wage Advocates provide free case reviews to those who believe they are owed back wages. This is purely informational and is intended to inform you of your legal options. The decision to move forward with a legal complaint is entirely yours.
Call today for your free consultation.