Many people assume that workers who are part of collective bargaining agreements would always be paid correctly. Sadly, not that is not always true, and workers in Texas and elsewhere may not receive their overtime pay and other compensation in accordance with state and federal employment laws. When this happens, the workers do have protection under the law and can fight for their hard-earned money.
Nearly 20,000 workers who were employed by the Indian Health Service claim that they were not paid properly. The three unions to which the employees belonged filed a joint complaint against the service in an effort to try to pursue the repayment of lost wages. Allegedly, the workers were forced to put in additional hours that would have resulted in them receiving overtime, but they were not paid for those extra hours.
According to the complaint, some of the workers were not classified correctly and were categorized as exempt from overtime. The majority of the complaints stem from employees who worked past their normal shifts or covered shifts when there were not enough people to take care of all of the patients. Others were not compensated for the time that they spent traveling.
The lawsuit ended in an $80 million settlement which will pay each of the plaintiffs $33,000 on average. Many of the affected workers are Native Americans. The agency is also looking to make changes to see that those who work additional hours will receive their overtime pay in the future. As a best practice, Texas workers should document the hours that they work, especially if those hours should result in overtime pay. If they are not paid appropriately for their time and no solution is reached, they may choose to move forward and take their complaint to court.
Source: federalnewsradio.com, “Indian Health Service settles employee overtime case for $80M“, Jason Miller, May 29, 2015