More than 300 employees filed a suit against HCR ManorCare recently, alleging the company violated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) meal break laws. Many employees claim the company actively discouraged workers from reporting incidents of working during meal breaks.
HCR ManorCare Inc., headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, is a national provider of both short-and- long-term medical care. The company employs over 44,000 hourly employees who are not exempt from overtime requirements by FLSA regulations. ManorCare has assisted living and skilled nursing homes facilities throughout the country, each with its own human resources and management team responsible for executing and observing corporate policies.
One of these policies, as mandated by the FLSA, is that hourly employees take unpaid meal breaks once a day. For those working more than five or six hours a day, one thirty-minute meal break is permitted. ManorCare uses a computerized timekeeping system, in which employees are expected to clock in at the start of their shirt and clock out at the end, not needing to clock in and out for meal breaks. If workers are unable to take an uninterrupted half hour break, they are required to complete an “auto-deduct” form and submit it to a manager, who signs it and submits it to payroll. Payroll personnel then adjust timecards accordingly, so workers are properly paid for the full time they worked.
ManorCare employees are arguing that the company did not take adequate measures to monitor whether or not employees actually received proper meal breaks or paid for a missed break. They are also claiming that ManorCare failed to inform and train employees on what to do if the break was missed, and discouraged employees from reporting missed or interrupted meal breaks.
ManorCare’s auto-deduct policy is considered lawful under the FSLA, however, the company’s failure to adequately and lawfully implement the policy is the basis of the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are arguing that ManorCare knowingly implemented the auto-deduct policy in such a way so that employees and managers alike would not fully understand their rights. The 300 employees involved in the lawsuit hold various positions, including registered nurses, nursing assistants, and admissions coordinators from numerous ManorCare locations across the US.
ManorCare is arguing that the auto-deduct policy is implemented by individual managers in each facility throughout the country, and that any unlawful execution of the policy is exclusive to that facility’s manager. Many of the plaintiffs testified, in detail, that they were inadequately trained regarding the auto-deduct policy, and were never instructed on the meaning of an “uninterrupted meal break.” Even supervisors involved in the case testified that they were not trained to make sure that workers were properly receiving uninterrupted breaks or were compensated for missing them.
In addition to this lack of training and available information, many plaintiffs are also stating that their managers actively discouraged or completely prohibited them from submitted an auto-deduct form when they worked during a meal break. They are placing the blame for this behavior, again, on inadequate training on the part of ManorCare, saying the company did not have a policy to ensure that managers properly oversaw employee meal breaks.
ManorCare operates under three names throughout the US: Heartland, Manor
Care, and Arden Court. Unfortunately, the company has been subject to
numerous lawsuits before this one, regarding nursing home abuse and negligence
rather than FSLA violations. All these lawsuits share a common denominator,
however, which is an overriding profit motive.
One suit was such a blatant case of elder neglect and abuse that the jury awarded over $90 million to the family of a woman with severe dementia who died at a ManorCare facility from bedsores and dehydration. In another case, a ManorCare resident was left to bleed to death over several days while nurses neglected to care or even check on her. The jury awarded that woman’s family over $50 million.
There are over 500 ManorCare facilities throughout the country, in 32 states. ManorCare has consistently prioritized profits over both its residents and its employees, and must be held accountable for this injustice. If you or someone you love was victimized by ManorCare, or any other company violating FLSA regulations, you have important legal rights. Wage and hour attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently reviewing cases of FLSA violations, and offer legal consultations free of charge.