Class action says Adventist Midwest underpaid its home health care workers

By Jonathan Bilyk | Aug 1, 2016

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.


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