$70,157 in Back Wages for Uncompensated Work Breaks in Violation o the Overtime Provisions of the FLSA

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

 Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls has agreed to pay $70,157 in back wages to 487 current and former employees at 12 of its health care facilities after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found employees were not compensated correctly for work breaks, in violation of the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Investigators found that Avera McKennan deducted time from employees' hours for meal and rest breaks that were less than 30 minutes in duration. Because the breaks were not counted toward employees' total weekly hours, the employees were not correctly compensated for overtime hours, that is, hours worked beyond 40 in a week. Investigators determined that these violations were systemic throughout the company because all locations operated under the same payroll and timekeeping systems, and applied the same administrative regulations to record time for hourly employees.

Avera McKennan has agreed to comply with the FLSA in the future, provide training for its employees and managers, and program its timekeeping software not to deduct time from employees' hours worked for breaks of fewer than 30 minutes. Avera McKennan is part of Avera Health. Operating in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa, Sioux Falls-headquartered Avera Health is one of the region's largest health systems and employs about 5,500 workers.

The department has a smartphone application to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. Available in English and Spanish, users conveniently can track regular work hours, break time and any overtime hours for one or more employers. This new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers' records, workers now can keep their own records. This and other Labor Department apps are available athttp://www.dol.gov/dol/apps.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In general, "hours worked" includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

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