On the heels of last week's discussion about a spike in wage theft cases across the U.S. comes news that right here in Texas nurses are working through their unpaid lunch periods and are not being paid properly for overtime.
A Tyler, Texas, nurse has filed a lawsuit against a home nursing company she once worked for on behalf of not only herself but also current and former employees. The lawsuit claims that the company is involved in rampant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act by refusing to pay health care employees properly for their overtime hours and improperly deducting meal breaks from their paychecks.
Nursing is one of those professions, where, unfortunately on some days the workload may be such that it is impossible to take a lunch break. But when nurses who are paid by the hour, or any hourly workers for that matter, are made to work through their lunch break they must be paid for that time.
Furthermore, non-exempt nurses in Texas must be paid time-and-one-half for all hours worked in excess of 40.
Unfortunately, nurses and other health care professionals in Texas are frequently deprived of the pay to which they are entitled. This is both because hourly nurses are improperly compensated for their long, busy hours with no breaks, and because other health care workers are misclassified as being exempt from overtime pay.
Nurses perform very important work, and they may become used to taking care of the needs of others before their own. But just because their work is often selfless, this does not mean that they are not protected by the same federal and state wage and hours laws as everyone else.
Texas nurses who work off-the-clock, work through lunch periods or are not paid for overtime are often wise to contact experienced employment law attorneys about protecting their rights.
Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Nurse sues employer claiming she was not paid for overtime work," Michelle Keahey, July 20, 2012
- Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Houston Overtime Pay Dispute page.