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New Overtime Lawsuit Filed Against Healthcare Ventures Of Ohio And Peregrine Health Services For Healthcare Employees

By Coffman Legal, LLC | Posted on Nov 24 2020

Coffman Legal’s Ohio FLSA Overtime Attorneys filed a Collective and Class Action Lawsuit against Healthcare Ventures of Ohio, LLC, Peregrine Health Services, Inc., Peregrine Health Services of Columbus, LLC , Peregrine Health Services of Cincinnati, LLC, and Peregrine Health Services of Edgerton, LLC for failing to compensate their hourly healthcare employees for overtime pay inclusive of retention bonuses, failing to compensate for interrupted meal breaks, and unlawful deductions that brought employees under the minimum wage.

On August 7, 2020, the law firm of Coffman Legal, LLC filed a Collective and Class Action Complaint against Defendants Healthcare Ventures of Ohio, LLC (“HVO”), Peregrine Health Services, Inc. (“Peregrine”), Peregrine Health Services of Columbus, LLC (“Peregrine Columbus”), Peregrine Health Services of Cincinnati, LLC (“Peregrine Cincinnati”), and Peregrine Health Services of Edgerton, LLC (“Peregrine Edgerton”) (collectively “Defendants”) on behalf of hourly healthcare employees for the alleged failure of Defendants to compensate their employees for overtime wages earned for all overtime work performed in violation of the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”). Defendants operated numerous facilities throughout Ohio, including but not limited to Autumn Court, Brookview Healthcare Center, Columbus Alzheimer Care Center, The Convalarium, Cridersville Healthcare Center, Echo Manor, The Gardens at Celina, The Gardens of Paulding, The Gardens at St. Henry, The Gardens at Wapakoneta, Heatherdowns Rehabilitation & Residential Center, McCrea Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Oak Grove Manor, Oak Pavilion Nursing Center, Park View Nursing Center, and Summit’s Trace Healthcare Center. Hourly healthcare employees include, but are not limited to, Registered Nurses (“RNs”), Licensed Practical Nurses (“LPNs”), and State Tested Nursing Assistants (“STNAs”).

HVO is a company that provides transitional care, rehabilitation therapy, assisted living, long-term nursing, and Alzheimer’s care that operates in the State of Ohio. Peregrine is a corporation and long-term care organization with 16 facilities located throughout Ohio, which provide substantially similar services as HVO. Again, at a minimum the following facilities are likely at issue in this lawsuit: Autumn Court, Brookview Healthcare Center, Columbus Alzheimer Care Center, The Convalarium / Convalarium at Indian Run, Cridersville Healthcare Center, The Gardens at Celina, The Gardens of Paulding, The Gardens at St. Henry, Heatherdowns Rehabilitation & Residential Center, McCrea Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, and Oak Grove Manor. Peregrine Columbus, Peregrine Cincinnati, and Peregrine Edgerton are companies that provide substantially similar services as HVO and operate throughout Ohio.

The Complaint alleges that Defendants promised hourly healthcare employees that they would receive retention bonuses after working for Defendants for certain lengths of time. Although these employees may have received such bonuses, those bonuses were allegedly not factored into their regular rate of pay for determining when paying overtime (which is to be paid at one and one-half times an employees’ regular rate of pay).

The Complaint further alleges that Defendants have a company policy of automatically deducting 30 minutes of time from its hourly field employees’ daily hours worked for meal breaks that were not taken at all or that were only partially taken. These employees allege that they were either unable to take their meal break or it was otherwise interrupted due to the continuing need to provide care for patients.

Finally, the Complaint alleges that Defendants unlawfully deduct pay from hourly healthcare employees’ paychecks in an attempt to reclaim a portion of retention bonus already given to an employee if that employee does not stay employed through the next retention-bonus period. As a result, these employees may discover their last paycheck to be zeroed-out or show a negative amount even though they performed work during that pay period and must be compensated at a rate not less than the minimum wage.

The FLSA requires an employer to pay employees for their work. Employees must be compensated for all hours under 40 per workweek at their regular rate of pay, which retention bonuses must factor into to get the correct rate.

Further, if an employer requires its employees to take an unpaid meal break, then it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the employee is completely relieved from their job duties so they can solely eat a meal.

Finally, employers cannot retaliate against employees for terminating their own employment after receiving a retention bonus by deducting a portion of that retention bonus or compensate employees at a rate less than the minimum wage. An employer has made an unlawful deduction if it retroactively reduces a portion of a retention bonus that results in an employee receiving no pay for their last pay period.

The Complaint alleges that Defendants improperly calculated hourly healthcare employees’ regular rates by not factoring in periodic retention bonuses. In addition, the Complaint alleges these hourly healthcare employees did not receive a bona fide meal break because they were not completely relieved from their job duties. Finally, the Complaint alleges that Defendants unlawfully deducted pay from hourly healthcare employees’ paychecks in a retaliatory attempt to reclaim portions of retention bonuses if those employees terminated their own employment before reaching the next retention-bonus period.

This lawsuit provides an example of how an employer can underpay its employees in violation of the FLSA by not fully paying them all overtime wages earned for all overtime work that they perform. This unpaid time often results in unpaid overtime which adds up over the course of an employee’s employment.  The FLSA sets forth the minimum compensation employees must be paid, and non-exempt hourly employees are entitled to receive full and proper compensation under the FLSA, including overtime.

The lawsuit seeks unpaid overtime wages since August 7, 2017, liquidated damages in an amount equal to the unpaid overtime, attorney’s fees, and costs, among other things.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division (Columbus) and is titled Shiflet v. Healthcare Ventures of Ohio, LLC et al., Case No. 2:20-cv-3428.

Additional information about the collective and class action against Defendants may be found by contacting our office by calling 614-949-1181 or emailing mcoffman@mcoffmanlegal.com. If you have any questions about whether you are being properly paid all overtime wages earned for all of the compensable hours you work (including overtime), then contact our office today to speak with our Overtime Attorneys regarding any wage and hour issues.

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