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Month 00, 2009

Fair Labor Standards Act Class Actions Filed Against New York Metropolitan Area Health Care Institutions

On March 24, 2010 ten class actions were filed by the law firm of Thomas & Solomon LLP, in federal court against several New York metropolitan area health care institutions.  The Complaints in these actions allege violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for failure to pay wages and overtime and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") for allegedly participating in a pattern of racketeering activity to obtain Plaintiffs’ property by means of false or fraudulent representations.  These actions include:

Daisy Ricks v. Long Island Health Network, Inc., et al., EDNY Civil Action No.: 10 CV 1326
Gloria Varela and Gregg Lambin v. North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, et al., EDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 1341;

Claudette Fraser v. Medisys Health Network, Inc., et al., EDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 1342;

Timothy Rosser v. Continuum Health Partners, et al., SDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 2633;

Robert Spano v. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, et al., SDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 2660;

Masahiro Nakahata v. New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, Inc., et al., SDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 2661;

Jonathan Yarus and Lloyd Blackwood v. NYC Health & Hospitals Corp., et al., SDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 2662;

Bradley Mott v. NYU Hospitals Center, et al., SDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 2663;

Jill Matthews v.  The Mount Sinai Medical Center, et al., SDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 2664; and

Helen Brugger v. Westchester Co. Health Care Corp., et al., SDNY Civil Action No. 10 CV 2683.

We also understand that class actions alleging violations of New York State Law Labor and the common law have been filed in state court against the above Defendants.

As previously discussed in our March 16, 2010 Client Alert, Thomas & Solomon LLP, the law firm representing the Plaintiffs in the above actions, has filed several similar actions in upstate New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Massachusetts and had recently begun actively soliciting New York metropolitan hospital employees to join in such lawsuits.

Similar to the FLSA class actions filed by the Thomas & Solomon firm against health care institutions in other jurisdictions, the Complaints allege that the hourly employees of the defendant hospitals and health care facilities and centers (“Defendants”) were denied compensation, including overtime, by operation of the Defendants’ break deduction policy which automatically deducts time from employees’ paychecks for a meal break (the “Meal Break Deduction Policy”).  The Complaints allege that Defendants knew that the employees sometimes performed work during their meal and break periods, but did not pay them for their time pursuant to the Meal Break Deduction Policy.  The Complaints also claims that Defendants did not compensate employees for work performed before and/or after the end of employees’ scheduled shifts in violation of the FLSA.

The Complaints further allege that, in violation of RICO, Defendants deliberately concealed from their employees that they did not receive compensation for all compensable work that they performed and misled the employees into believing they were being paid properly.  Specifically, the Complaints allege that Defendants devised and carried out a scheme to cheat their employees out of their wages and/or overtime pay by supplying them with false, deceptive and misleading payroll checks.

We recommend that employers review their time-keeping procedures and wage and hour policies for FLSA and State Labor Law compliance.  We remain available to assist you in reviewing policies or in conducting a self-audit to help ensure compliance with the law.

If you have any questions regarding compliance or conducting a self-audit, please do not hesitate to contact us.