New OT regs could spike FLSA lawsuits

Nursing facilities are among the businesses often hit by Fair Labor Standards Act prosecutions, and the number of those actions likely will spike when the Department of Labor's final overtime pay rule goes into effect Dec. 1.

That's according to DOL data recently compiled by TSheets, a maker of employee time tracking software. 

The information places nursing facilities as the second-most prosecuted sector in the healthcare industry when it comes to wage and hour violation lawsuits. The healthcare industry as a whole ranked second on the list of industries most likely to be hit with such cases.

Since 1985, the skilled nursing sector has seen 2,201 FLSA prosecutions, costing each prosecuted facility an average of nearly $14,000. In total, completed FLSA prosecutions have cost the sector more than $30 million over the past 30 years.

FLSA cases in all industries have increased 456% since 1995, according to TSheets' data, with another spike predicted after the overtime regulations go into effect.

“We now have a new salary threshold — it's double from the old threshold. That puts 4.2 million workers back into play,” said attorney Daniel Abrahams with Brown Rudnick LLP. “In the eyes of many plaintiffs' attorneys, that's fresh meat entering the marketplace who for the first time are going to explore their hours of work, their exempt duties, their salary compensation.” 

Lee Schreter, an attorney at Littler Mendelson's Atlanta office, encouraged employers to take a critical look at their documents.

“I can't tell you how often employers are surprised, and sometimes horrified, by what their own documents say,” Schreter said. “You need to ask yourself, ‘Do these documents—job descriptions, performance evaluations —do they tell our company's story the way they should?' Look at your documents critically and often, or risk unpleasant surprises.”