2011 News

Are you owed overtime pay?

07.06.2011

Dear MNA Member:

Recently you may have received a letter from the law firm of Thomas & Solomon LLP soliciting you to join a lawsuit against your employer for unpaid wages, especially those for missed meal periods. As a member of an MNA bargaining unit, your contract provides you with the right to be paid for overtime work and work beyond your daily, regularly scheduled hours. As an hourly, non-exempt paid professional, we urge you to use the grievance and arbitration process to assert your claim for overtime pay because, if the MNA prevails on your claim, you will receive the full pay due to you. However, if you join the lawsuit any settlement will deduct attorney fees, be limited to those in the class eligible for the settlement, and you will likely receive only a portion of the wages due to you, not the full amount for non-paid wages.

"if the MNA prevails on your claim, you will receive the full pay due to you."

Hourly, non-exempt wages require, in part, that during each shift in which you are scheduled to work more than six (6) hours, you have the right to an uninterrupted thirty (30) minute meal break – this means that you are free to leave the unit, do not have to carry a pager, or be available for work or work related questions. If you are required to stay on the unit or have to answer questions about your work during this period, then it is not a valid meal break and you are entitled to pay for that missed meal period. You should consult your contract and local committee about the specifics of your contract because provisions vary, for example some RNs receive a paid meal period so the above statements may not apply. Contract language covering hourly wages may improve the payment, but it cannot lessen the payment allowed under the law.

If there are several instances of RNs not being provided uninterrupted meal periods or not being paid for missed meal periods, than the bargaining unit should consider filing a class action grievance for missed meal breaks. This gives the MNA the right to obtain payroll information to prove the contract violation and get the RNs the pay they deserve. It is therefore important that you contact your local MNA committee if you believe you are not receiving proper overtime pay or your breaks as required by law and your contract.

It is also extremely important that you perform your work while on duty. You may feel direct or indirect pressure from the employer to not work beyond your scheduled shifts if it will result in overtime, yet you may need more time to complete patient care or documentation surrounding the care of your patient(s). It is not appropriate to sign off and then continue to perform work. Doing so may not only violate wage and hour laws, it potentially violates HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), as well as puts your nursing license at risk. Your malpractice insurance will not cover incidences that arise if you have signed out from your shift and then continued to perform work.

If you would like to read more information on this issue, the following website contains information on these regulations (go to www.dol.gov and in the search function type in FLSA).

Remember to look at your MNA collective bargaining agreement for language surrounding this topic and how it applies to your work setting. If you have questions, contact your local leadership or MNA staff person.

Sincerely,

The MNA Board of Directors:
Officers:

Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President
dkellywilliams@massnurses.org
Karen Coughlin, RN, Vice President
kcoughlin@massnurses.org
Ann Marie McDonagh, RN, Treasurer
amcdonagh4151@massnurses.org
Rosemary O’Brien, RN, Secretary
robrien1212@massnurses.org

Regional Directors:
Ann Lewin, RN, Region 1
alewin5932@massnurses.org
Sandra Hottin, RN, Region 1
shottin5615@massnurses.org
Ellen Smith, RN, Region 2
esmith4124@massnurses.org
Pat Mayo, RN, Region 2
pmayo3370@massnurses.org
Donna Dudik, RN, Region 3
ddudik2628@massnurses.org
Karen Gavigan, RN, Region 3
kgavigan7465@massnurses.org
Patricia Rogers Sullivan, RN, Region 4
progerssullivan3672@massnurses.org
Tiffany Diaz Bercy , RN, Region 4
tdiaz8966@massnurses.org
Dan Rec, RN, Region 5
drec5183@massnurses.org
Barbara Tiller, RN, Region 5
btiller3100@massnurses.org

At-Large Directors Labor:
Beth Amsler, RN
mamsler3889@massnurse.org
Colette Kopke, RN
ckopke4510@massnurses.org
Kathie Logan, RN
kathie2378@massnurses.org
Kathy Metzger, RN
kmetzger1837@massnurses.org
Diane Michael, RN
dmichael7382@massnurses.org
Marie Ritacco, RN
mritacco5988@massnurses.org
Colleen Wolfe, RN
cwolfe6607@massnurses.org

At-Large Directors General:
Fabiano Bueno, RN
fbueno6806@massnurses.org
Gary Kellenberger, RN
gkellenberger4193@massnurses.org
Katie Murphy, RN
kmurphy3824@massnurses.org
Ginny Ryan, RN
gryan9283@massnurses.org
Paula Ryan, RN
pryan3896@massnurses.org
Nora Watts, RN
nwatts2764@massnurses.org

Labor Program Member:
Gloria Brady
gbrady4777@massnurses.org

FPO