A home health care worker has brought a potential class
action lawsuit against Adventist Midwest Health, saying the health care system
has underpaid him and other home health nurses, therapists and others by paying
them per visit, without overtime and other compensation he claims they should
have been required to pay under federal and state wage laws.
On July 27, Ryan Smith, identified only as an Illinois
resident who worked as a clinician for Hinsdale –based Adventist Midwest
Health, filed a complaint in Chicago federal court against the health system.
According to the complaint, Smith and others – including nurses,
physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists, among
others – have been required by Adventist Midwest for years to provide their
services to Adventist Midwest patients in their homes.
In addition to the time actually spent with patients, Smith’s
complaint said those visits would often include a number of other tasks,
associated with the job, which would be performed before or after the visit
with the patient, including patient “charting,” preparation for the visits, “communications
with patients, physicians and other medical care providers,” travel to the
patients’ homes, and time spent “dropping off lab specimens and following up on
lab work,” as well as “coordinating with other disciplines” and “ordering
medical equipment and supplies,” among others.
He alleged the additional work often caused him and other
home health care workers to put in more than 40 hours a week.
However, despite the additional work, Smith said Adventist
Midwest paid the clinicians only “an hourly base rate multiplied by pre-defined
visit multipliers as a proxy for hourly compensation,” and no overtime, which
he said fell short under the requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards
Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.
He alleged Adventist Midwest had classified its home health
care workers as “exempt” under the overtime requirements of those laws,
allowing them to pay the workers less.
Smith’s complaint did not precisely indicate how many other
Adventist Midwest Health home health workers might be covered by the class
action, but the lawsuit said the number would be more than 100, potentially including all home health care workers employed by Adventist Midwest in the past three years.
Adventist Midwest operates Adventist Hinsdale Hospital,
LaGrange Memorial Hospital, Bolingbrook Hospital and GlenOaks Hospital, as well
as Adventist Health Care At Home, which is based in LaGrange, among other
health care facilities in Chicago’s suburbs.
In his lawsuit, Smith has asked the court to certify a class
of additional plaintiffs, and to award compensatory damages for the overtime
hours Smith has alleged he and others were not paid, plus 2 percent interest on
those overtime wages, as called for under the Illinois wage law.
He also requested attorney fees and a jury trial.
Smith and the potential plaintiffs class are represented in
the action by attorney James B. Zouras and others with the firm of Stephan
Zouras LLP, of Chicago.