The issue of misclassification of workers as exempt when they might not be has been around for a very long time. Another class of such workers has been certified in the health care industry. The federal Judge has granted final certification to two classes of workers claiming they are entitled to overtime. The classes will allow more than seventy (70) client service managers to pursue their overtime claims.

The Company had argued that the guidelines it issued to assist the client service managers were not enforced uniformly, as the workers performed many different tasks, which depended on the location that worked at, as well as the supervisory policies and approach of the particular local manager they worked for. The Judge found that “while the existence of uniform policies is not dispositive, it is strong evidence to support plaintiffs’ burden of showing how they are similarly situated.”

The employees allege that they spend the vast amount of their time, between 70-95%, performing non-exempt duties. They allege that “from corporate documents and corporate admissions, to seven plaintiffs’ depositions — shows that those CSMs who joined this lawsuit spend most of their time performing substantially similar, non-exempt tasks.”

The Company countered by asserting that there existed too much individuality amongst the alleged class to allow for such certification. The Company contended that each of the plaintiffs worked at different places in a network spanning thirteen (13) States, with each facility having its unique staffing levels and different supervisors giving varying guidance about the work and timekeeping. The Company stressed that there were sufficient differences in the duties and workloads of the plaintiffs to undermine the contention that they were all “similarly situated.” Although there was a policy book, the Company asserted that was no evidence that all of the Client Service Managers were treated the same. The case is entitled Ivanovs et al. v. Bayada Home Health Care Inc., and was filed in federal court in the District of New Jersey.

The Takeaway

I think the Court got it wrong. As I have written about many times, the best attack against certification is the contention that too much individual scrutiny is needed and/or that the employees are too dissimilar to warrant inclusion in an overall class working under a single, overall policy. The employer here seemed to make that case very cogently with a good deal of factual foundation.

It’s a shame…