Staff Nursing Wage Theft: Misclassified Nurses and Stolen Overtime
Recently, nurse medical staffing companies have come under fire for claiming the nurses they hire and place are “independent contractors” not entitled to overtime. Nurse wage theft is rampant: often, nurses are not free to negotiate their own rates or overtime arrangements with the hospital where they work, and are paid by the staffing companies for “straight time” only. Courts have repeatedly found that nurses are, in fact, employees of nurse staffing companies and must be paid time-and-a=-half for all hours worked over 40 hours.
Recently, a Virginia court outlined why nurses are not “independent contractors” of staffing companies, holding that the failure to pay nurse overtime was illegal under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Steadfast Medical Staffing of Norfolk Virginia maintained a database of licensed nurses and connected those nurses with work opportunities at healthcare facilities. Steadfast had contracts with those facilities and also paid the nurses for work performed on behalf of the facilities. Steadfast only paid “straight-time” (i.e. no overtime) to hundreds of nurses over the years, claiming no overtime was owed because the nurses were “independent contractors”. The nurses did not maintain their own businesses, had no opportunity for profit or loss at any healthcare facility, and were actually called “employees” of the staffing company. The nurses wore “Steadfast” badges at work, were permeant employees of steadfast, and could be disciplined by Steadfast. This meant that the nurses were “employees” of the staffing company and were entitled to overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours each work week. Steadfast was required to pay $7,200,000.00 in back wages and liquidated damages to over 1,100 nurses who had been the subject of unpaid overtime.
Wage theft in the healthcare industry is widespread. Off the clock pre-shift staff meetings and unpaid overtime are common wage theft schemes in the healthcare industry. Nurses are rarely, if ever, properly treated as “independent contactors” of staffing companies. If you are denied overtime and subject to “straight pay” as a staff nurse, you are the victim of wage theft and should hire an unpaid overtime attorney. Fill out the “contact” form for a confidential consultation, or call today. 888-353-5995.