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Hospital workers file class action over lunch break deductions

Three employees of University Medical Center of Southern Nevada have filed a class action lawsuit against the hospital for what they say were illegal deductions from their pay. The plaintiffs, who say their suit was filed on behalf of "at least 50" other UMC employees, allege that hospital management forced them to work through lunch while not paying them for the resulting overtime.

The plaintiffs are respiratory therapists at UMC, which is located in Las Vegas. According to their employee legal action, for at least the past three years the hospital has required them to take an unpaid 30 minute meal break during their shifts. However, the lawsuit says, the plaintiffs were still on call during the break. They were required to wear pagers and "immediately respond to requests made by doctors and nurses to assist patients with respiratory issues."

In short, the plaintiffs say, they were not always able to take a "bona fide" meal break, but UMC still automatically deducted 30 minutes per shift from their paychecks. The lawsuit contends that this practice violates the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay workers time and a half for time they put in past 40 hours each week. The hospital also violated Nevada employment law, the lawsuit says. The plaintiffs, who are seeking class action status for their litigation, are seeking unspecified compensation.

A spokeswoman for UMC declined to comment. The hospital had not responded to the lawsuit as of Aug. 16. Attorneys for the plaintiffs also have not commented but said they would issue a statement in the coming days.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, "Hospital workers sue over alleged unpaid time worked," Dave Toplikar, Aug. 16, 2012

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