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Nurse should be paid overtime for on-call work, court says

Some on-call Texas employees may be eligible for overtime pay even if they do not work throughout the entire on-call shift. In an Ohio case, a court ruled that a nurse who was on call every other weekend should have been paid overtime because of the lack of personal time the work allowed her.

The nurse was on a 48-hour on-call shift every other weekend in addition to her usual schedule. The hospital had also moved her from exempt to non-exempt in 2016. Non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime, but the hospital did not document its reasons for making her non-exempt. She was paid regular time for the on-call shift, but the court agreed that she should have been paid overtime. Although she did not work for the entirety of the shift, she did work an average of 25.4 hours.

The court argued that someone who left a number so that they would be available during an on-call shift would not be eligible for overtime as long as the on-call duties did not leave the person unable to attend to personal activities. However, it found that the nurse's work, which included visiting patients and reviewing reports, prevented her from engaging in personal activities. In addition to overtime, the court also found that the hospital's actions were willful. This meant she was eligible for liquidated damages.

Employees who believe they are being paid incorrectly as a result of unpaid overtime because of being classified improperly or for some other reason might want to contact an attorney. The attorney might be able to explain the employee's rights and how best to proceed. If there are others in the workplace who are being underpaid, a legal case might eventually be considered class action. Workers may be entitled to back pay as well as damages.

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