A federal judge in Wisconsin has denied a motion by Humana to decertify a collective action in an overtime case filed by salaried nurse consultants. The parties had previously stipulated to conditionally certify a collective action pursuant to Section 16(b) of the FLSA. The court approved the stipulation and ordered that a collective action be conditionally certified under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) to include:
All persons who were classified as exempt under the FLSA and worked as clinical nurse advisors for Defendants in the roles of Clinical Intake, Clinical Claims Review, Clinical Claims Review—DME, Acute Case Managers, or Market Clinical—Senior Products utilization management nurses, at any time within the three years prior to the date the Court approves this Stipulation.
In its motion to decertify, Humana claimed that the positions were factually different, and thus that trying the case collectively were improper. Plaintiffs argued that the descriptions rely on Humana’s own outdated job descriptions and, essentially, all describe similar utilization management tasks that these employees performed. They contend that all of the UM Nurses followed the “same core steps” in their work irrespective of the various job titles. The Court found that while there were some differences between the jobs such as the job descriptions and salaries, these variations did not warrant decertification. Likewise, the Court found that the evidence that would be presented on the affirmative defenses by Humana would be similar enough to maintain collective treatment. Lastly, the Court rejected Humana’s argument that individualized damages warranted decertification, finding that individualized damages should not defeat collective certification, and that collective treatment would be more efficient than addressing each employee claim individually in separate action.
This case shows that collective actions are viewed as the most efficient manner to resolve overtime pay cases when the plaintiff can show that the class shares similar, if not identical, job duties.
Nurse consultants are frequently salaried and denied overtime pay by hospitals, insurance companies and other health care providers. This practice can violate state and federal overtime laws. If you have questions regarding overtime pay, call Josh Borsellino at 817.908.9861 today or email him here for a free evaluation of your case.