Court rules about overtime pay for on-call shifts

Some employees in the Houston area who work on-call hours may be entitled to overtime pay they are not getting. A nurse in Ohio filed a claim against her workplace where she was required to be on call on alternating weekends. The hospital paid her regular rate.

The woman worked an average of 25.4 hours during that on-call shift doing tasks such as reviewing reports and meeting with patients. A court found that she was eligible for overtime for two reasons. One had to do with the amount of time she spent doing the tasks and the nature of the tasks. The hospital had argued that since she was not working for the entire period, she was not eligible for overtime. However, the court ruled that this would only be the case if the employee was able to mostly engage in personal activities during the on-call shift. It found that the time she spent on work meant she could not attend to those personal activities.

The other issue was that her classification had been changed from exempt to non-exempt in 2016 without any apparent reason being noted. Non-exempt employees are eligible to be paid overtime. The court found that this indicated that the hospital's behavior was willful and awarded her liquidated damages as well as compensation for overtime.

Employees who believe they are not being paid overtime or other portions of their wages might want to consult an attorney about wage and hour laws. Employers do not always understand their obligations to employees or may deliberately mislead them in an effort to pay them less. The attorney might be able to explain to the employee what documentation is needed and how to proceed. If filing a lawsuit is necessary in order to get the compensation owed, the attorney may be able to help with that as well.

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