The home healthcare industry has become a target for wage and hour litigation and government investigations, and new issues are constantly emerging. Class and collective actions against healthcare employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal wage and hour law, have increased dramatically in recent years, and providers of home healthcare services have not been immune. Plaintiffs' attorneys recently filed class action lawsuits against two of the nation's largest home healthcare providers alleging that clinicians, including registered nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, were improperly classified as exempt employees and incorrectly compensated under the FLSA and state law. Other class actions have been filed in various states, accusing home healthcare providers of FLSA violations such as failing to pay for overtime, work during meal periods, off-the-clock work, and travel time.
Given the complexity of the issues, the frequency of new developments, the risk of becoming entrapped in expensive and time consuming litigation that may result in costly damages is great. To reduce this risk, employers should proactively analyze their pay practices and policies and seek advice regarding any potential issues. Correcting potential problem areas in pay and timekeeping practices now will go a long way toward decreasing an employer's vulnerability to plaintiffs' counsel looking for the next big wage and hour complaint to file.
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