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Class Action on Improper Wages Gets Judge’s Go-Ahead

Employees at a Washington, D.C.-area hospital system can proceed with a class action lawsuit alleging they were not paid for working during their meal breaks.

WBM is representing the 18 employees of six MedStar hospitals who allege that MedStar Health Inc. had not paid hourly staffers who were unable to take their meal breaks due to work obligations. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the District of Columbia on April 8 rejected MedStar’s arguments that the case should not go forward.

The staffers, who are entitled to a 30-minute meal break, allege that because their departments were inadequately staffed, they were unable to take those breaks, having been regularly called back to perform work that included “responding to emergency situations, responding to supervisors’ instructions, providing patient care and performing typical work duties,” according to the complaint.

News reports on insufficient nurse staffing “are consistent with the allegations in this complaint that departments are thinly staffed,” Nicholas Migliaccio, WBM attorney, told the Washington Business Journal.

The suit includes MedStar’s Washington Hospital Center and Georgetown University in D.C.; Harbor Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital and Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore; and St. Mary’s Hospital in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.

“For a nurse, you can't just up and leave your patients and take a break,” Jason Rathod, WBM attorney, told the Washington Business Journal.