Sued for Failure to Pay Overtime to Case Managers
HARRISON et al v. WELLCARE OF FLORIDA INC et al
- Jeremiah Talbott
- Sean Culliton
- John Davis
On May 15, 2019 a complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Florida wherein a collective and class action was brought by Individual and Representative Plaintiffs, Deborah Harrison and Cheryl Miller (“Plaintiffs” or “Class Representatives”), on their own behalf and on behalf of those similarly situated and Plaintiffs who have “opted-in” to this matter. Plaintiffs, Opt-In Plaintiffs, and the Putative Collective Class members are or were jointly employed by Defendant Wellcare of Florida, Inc. d/b/a Staywell Health Plan of Florida and Comprehensive Health Management, Inc. (hereinafter collectively referred to as “DEFENDANTS”). Plaintiffs, Opt-In Plaintiffs, and the Putative Collective Class members are or were denied overtime pay required by federal wage and hour laws. These employees are similarly situated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
The Putative Collective Class is made up of all persons who are, or have been, employed by DEFENDANTS as “Case Managers” during the applicable statutory period, and provided case management services including conducting assessments of enrollees eligible for care, developing care plans, assisting with referrals to providers, resolving complaints and other matters, and performing other related duties. Like the Plaintiffs, the Putative Collective Class are, or were, employees of DEFENDANTS who worked in support of STAYWELL’S contract with the State of Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (“AHCA”) to provide Medicaid managed care services to Medicaid recipients in the State of Florida (“AHCA Contract”).
During the applicable statutory period, DEFENDANTS failed to pay overtime compensation to each member of the respective classes as required by federal law. Plaintiffs seek relief for the Opt-In Plaintiffs and Collective Class under the FLSA to remedy DEFENDANTS’ failure to pay appropriate overtime compensation.
What is a FLSA Collective Action Lawsuit?
Most people have heard of a “class-action” lawsuit, but few have heard of a “collective action” lawsuit. Although the goals of both lawsuits are similar, they are actually different. Specifically, in a class-action lawsuit, the plaintiff will file a motion to certify a class and, if granted, notice is sent to the entire class wherein each potential class member is given the opportunity to “opt out” of the lawsuit. If they do not “opt out” of the lawsuit, then they are included in the lawsuit. However, a “collective action” lawsuit is a little different in that the Court sends a notice to all “similarly situated employees” and the employees are given an opportunity to “opt in” to the lawsuit. If the employee does not “opt in” to the lawsuit, then they are not part of lawsuit. All employees that “opt in” to the lawsuit become parties to the lawsuit and can proceed forward to litigate their cases as a group, rather than an individual capacity. Therefore, a collective action lawsuit is a mechanism by which a court sends notice to potential party plaintiffs and gives them the opportunity to join into a pending lawsuit. Again, if the potential class member does not “opt in” to the lawsuit, they are not entitled to recover damages in the lawsuit, but must file a separate suit in order to recover damages.
Do I qualify to recover unpaid overtime wages?
As noted above, this lawsuit was brought on behalf of LTC Case Managers who worked for United Healthcare, Inc. in the State of Florida. We believe that all LTC Case Managers were misclassified as “exempt from overtime” employees and that the LTC Case Managers are entitled to overtime for each and every hour that they worked in excess of 40 hours in any workweek.
Can I still join the lawsuit if I was paid as a salaried case manager or was classified as “exempt from overtime”?
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the fact that your employer considered you as an exempt from overtime employee, or paid you a salary, does not prevent you from receiving overtime pay. Specifically, all employees must be paid overtime for each and every hour that they work in excess of 40 hours in any workweek unless the employee qualifies as “exempt from overtime” under a specific exemption of the FLSA. The burden is on the employer to prove that the exemption applies. Thus, even if the employer classifies the employee as “exempt from overtime” or pays the employee on a “salary” basis, the employee can still receive overtime pay if it is determined that the employee was misclassified as an exempt from overtime employee.
It is the Plaintiffs’ position that United Healthcare misclassified LTC Case Managers as “exempt from overtime” employees and that they are owed overtime for each and every hour over 40 hours in any workweek. In fact, we have handled similar cases on behalf of case managers/family service counselors, who were paid a salary, and were successful in proving that the employees were entitled in recover unpaid overtime for the employees. See the summary of Talbott v. Lakeview or read Judge Casey Rogers’ order in its entirety.
How many years can I “go back” to recover unpaid wages?
The Fair Labor Standards Act only allows an employee/Plaintiff to seek unpaid wages for two years prior to the date that the lawsuit was filed, or for any person seeking to “opt in” to a collective action lawsuit, two years from the date that they file their “opt in”. However, for “willful” violations, the employee can seek to recover three years of unpaid wages. This is what is commonly referred to as the statute of limitations. The Plaintiffs have alleged that the violations in this case were willful violations.
How do I become part of this case?
In order to recover unpaid wages and/or be part of this lawsuit, all case managers must complete an Opt-in Form form and return to our office immediately so that it can be filed with the court. The statute of limitations continues to run until the “opt in” form is filed with the court, so it is important for all persons wanting to opt in to act quickly to avoid losing their right to recover unpaid wages.
Do you have to pay you any money to be part of this lawsuit?
The short answer is no. We are accepting this case on a contingency basis and we are fronting all cost associated with this case. If we do not recover any monies from the defendant, then you owe us no fees or costs.
What if I want to talk to an attorney to get more specifics about the case or my rights?
If you have questions about whether you can recover in the lawsuit, or wish to talk to someone before joining the lawsuit, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at (850)437-9600 or via email.