Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 | 12:45 p.m.
A class action lawsuit has been filed in federal court against University Medical Center by three respiratory therapists who claim the hospital owes them compensation for the last three years for regularly deducting 30 minutes each day for meal breaks — even though they couldn’t take meal breaks.
The lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed by Daniel Small, Carolyn Small and William Curtin for themselves and “at least 50” other hourly respiratory therapists.
Danita Cohen, UMC’s public relations director, said today that because the case is pending, the hospital is unable to comment. UMC has not responded to the complaint.
The attorneys who filed the suit have not responded to inquiries about the case, saying they would release a statement soon.
The lawsuit alleges that during the last three years, the UMC employees were required to be on call during their 30-minute lunch periods.
They say UMC violated federal and state wage laws by “automatically deducting 30 minutes each day for meal break times regardless of whether a bona fide 30-minute meal break was actually taken.”
The lawsuit says the respiratory therapists “couldn’t take uninterrupted bona fide 30-minute breaks because they were on-call and were required to carry a pager and required to immediately respond to requests made by doctors and nurses to assist patients with respiratory issues.”
The suit says they seek to represent a class of persons who were are or will be employed by UMC as hourly employees “who are required, suffered or permitted to work more than 40 hours per week without the proper overtime compensation.”
They said each employee, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, must be paid overtime equal to at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.