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News | Sep 25, 2009

Hospital Workers throughout Pennsylvania Continue to Press their Overtime Rights in Cases for Unpaid Meal Breaks

Chief Judge Donetta Ambrose of the Western District of Pennsylvania recently granted conditional certification on behalf of an FLSA class of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hospital workers in Kuznyetsov v. West Penn Allegheny Health System, Inc., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47163 (W.D. Pa. June 1, 2009). There, the hospitals made an automatic 30-minute pay deduction for meal breaks. See id. at *12-14. The hospitals also required that employees who work during meal breaks report their work to the timekeeper so that the 30-minute deduction could be altered. See id. at 13. Based on these policies, Chief Judge Ambrose conditionally certified the FLSA class.  After emphasizing that it is the employer’s duty to affirmatively ensure that work is not performed during meal breaks, see id. at 14, the Court conditionally certified the class on grounds that “[a]rguably, [the hospitals’] policies shift the responsibility to the employees” in violation of the FLSA, id. at 14. At the conditional certification stage, it did not matter that the hospitals had offered evidence of thousands of instances in which automatic deductions were cancelled. See id. Such evidence did not “alter[] the fact that the policies apply to all non-exempt employees and arguably shifts the responsibility to the employees to ensure that the deduction is cancelled.” Id. at *15-16. Our law firm currently is representing hospital workers who allegedly were denied their full meal breaks in Philadelphia. Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions or would like to discuss the legal rights of you or your clients.

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