Catholic Healthcare Initiatives Wage & Hour Litigation

Walkinshaw, et al. v. CommonSpirit Health, et al., Case No. 4:19-cv-03012-BCB-SMB

Summary of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that CommonSpirit Health, CHI Nebraska, and Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center (collectively, “Defendants”) violated the Fair LaborStandards Act (“FLSA”), the Nebraska Wage and Hour Act (“NWHA”), and the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act (“NWPCA”) for failing to record time spent by nurses performing work remotely (e.g., by phone or text messaging) while they were on-call and adequately compensate them for such work. The lawsuit also alleges that Defendants failed to pay nurses for such work pursuant to Defendants’ own written policies at time and a half the regular hourly rate in 15-minute increments.

Summary of the Claims

Under the FLSA,NWHA, and NWPCA, employers are required to pay non-exempt employees an hourly minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-a-half times regular wages for time worked over forty hours of a work week and pay wages in a timely manner. TheComplaint alleges various federal and state-law claims against Defendants for violation of the FLSA, NWHA, NWPCA and for breach of contract and unjust enrichment by, for example,

 (1)        failing to record time spent by nurses performing remote work while on call and to include such time to compute and pay overtime under the FLSA;

 (2)        failing to pay minimum wages under the NWHA and the NWPCA; and

(3)        failing to pay wages pursuant to the written terms of Defendants’ on-call pay policies, which required Defendants to pay for work performed remotely while on call at time and a half the regular hourly rate in 15-minute increments. 

Class Action Information

The FLSA claim in this lawsuit is brought on behalf of the following persons:

All persons who are or were jointly or severally employed by CommonSpirit and/or by its predecessor Catholic Health Initiatives, CHI Health, and/or SERMC, as medical nurses, who were paid an hourly wage, and who were subject to the On-Call Practice respecting compensation for On-Call Work, from February 6, 2016 through the present, at the following locations:

CHI Health Laboratory in Omaha, Nebraska; Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska; Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, Nebraska; Immanuel Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska; Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska; CHI Health-Mercy in Corning, Iowa; Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs, Iowa; Midlands Hospital in Papillion, Nebraska; CHI Health Missouri Valley in Harrison County,Iowa; CHI Health – Nebraska Heart in Lincoln, Nebraska; CHI Health – Plainview in Plainview, Nebraska; CHI Health in Schuyler, Nebraska; Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Lincoln, NE; Saint Francis Hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska; and CHI Health – Saint Mary’s in Otoe, Nebraska.

The Nebraska state-law claim for failure to pay a minimum wage is brought on behalf of the following persons:

The Rule 23 Class: All persons who are or were jointly or severally employed by CommonSpirit and/or by its predecessor Catholic Health Initiatives, CHI Health, and/or SERMC, as medical nurses in the State of Nebraska, who were paid an hourly wage, and who were subject to the On-Call Policy respecting compensation for On-Call Work, from February 6, 2015 through the present, at the following locations:

the CHI Health Laboratory in Omaha, Nebraska; Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska; Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, Nebraska; Immanuel Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska; Lakeside Hospital in Omaha; Midlands Hospital in Papillion, Nebraska; CHI Health Nebraska Heart in Lincoln, Nebraska; CHI Health– Plainview in Plainview, Nebraska; CHI Health in Schuyler, Nebraska; SERMC; Saint Francis Hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska; and CHI Health – Saint Mary’s in Otoe, Nebraska.

The Nebraska state-law claims for failing to pay wages pursuant to the written terms of Defendants’ on-call pay policies and for breach of contract and unjust enrichment are brought on behalf of the following subclasses of the Rule 23 Class:

The 2017 Policy Subclass: All persons who were employed by CommonSpirit and/or by its predecessor Catholic Health Initiatives, CHI Health, and/or SERMC, who were paid an hourly wage and who were subject to the On-Call Policy respecting compensation for On-Call Work from June 1, 2017 until September 30, 2018 (“2017 Policy”), at the least following locations: Creighton University Medical Center; Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, Nebraska; Immanuel Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska; Lakeside Hospital in Omaha; Midlands Hospital in Papillion, Nebraska; Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Lincoln, NE; and Saint Francis Hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska and other Locations subject to a policy similar to the 2017 Policy.

The 2016 Policy Subclass: All persons who were employed by CommonSpirit and/or by its predecessor Catholic Health Initiatives, CHI Health, and/or SERMC, who were paid an hourly wage and who were subject to the On-Call Policy respecting compensation for On-Call Work from March 1, 2016 until May 31, 2017 (“2016 Policy”), at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln, NE and all other Locations that were subject to a policy similar to the 2016 Policy.

Status of the Litigation

The Initial Complaint was filed on February 6, 2019. The Amended Complaint was filed on June 24, 2019. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint on August 1, 2019, which was denied by the Court on December 20, 2019.

Plaintiffs filed a motion to request the Court to conditionally certify the lawsuit as an FLSA collective action on July 20, 2020. Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint and a corrected Second Amended Complaint on July 31, 2020 and August 10, 2020, respectively. Defendant CommonSpirit Health filed a motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint on August 25, 2020. On December 17, 2020, the Court denied CommonSpirit Health’s motion to dismiss and granted Plaintiffs’ motion for conditional certification under the FLSA.

Discovery is currently ongoing.

Articles

"Judge rules nurses can join lawsuit against CHI Health over OT for on-call pay," Lincoln Journal Star - February 5, 2021

Whom to Contact for More Information

If you are a member of the proposed class or you have information which might assist us in the prosecution of these allegations, please contact one of the following persons:

R. Joseph Barton, Esq. (jbarton@blockesq.com)
Ming Siegel, Paralegal (ming@blockesq.com)
Block & Leviton LLP
1735 20th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 734-7046

Block & Leviton is co-counsel in this litigation with Powers Law.