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Settlement of Overtime Grievances by Indian Health Service Workers

Ariz. — A group of Indian Health Service employees who filed an overtime suit against the agency on behalf of more than ten thousand workers has agreed to settle their claims for $80 million dollars. The employees initially filed grievances in 2008 alleging unpaid overtime because they were misclassified as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Additionally, the employees alleged that the Indian Health Service failed to pay its workers for off-the-clock work and did not properly compensate them for travel time. A majority of the employees were represented by the Laborers’ International Union of North America.

FLSA Claims by Federal Employees

Federal employees may file FLSA claims in four ways. First, employees may file claims through a negotiated grievance procedure. In this case, members of bargaining units covered by collective bargaining agreements that does not specifically exclude FLSA matters within the scope of the agreement must use the negotiated grievance procedure to seek an administrative remedy. These employees have no right to further administrative review by their agencies or by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Employees may also file claims through the agency’s administrative processes or OPM. To do so, an employee is either not a member of a bargaining unit or not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Each agency has procedures for filing claims. Alternatively, claims may be filed in writing and signed by the employee or his or her representative with OPM.

Finally, as with private sector employees, federal employees may always bring an action in an appropriate federal court. Filing a claim with the agency or OPM does not stop the statute of limitations governing FLSA claims, and OPM will not issue decisions on claims that are already in litigation in federal court.

Misclassified Indian Health Service Employees

In this case, the Indian Health Service employees entered arbitration with the agency through a negotiated grievance process. 21 claims were arbitrated, of which 16 were adjudicated or resolved in favor of the unions. The claims were filed by workers who stayed after their scheduled hours or covered shifts that would otherwise have gone unfilled. Under the settlement agreement, the Indian Health Service has also agreed that thousands of current employees previously declared exempt from FLSA will now be covered.

If you or someone you know is misclassified as an exempt employee and has a claim for unpaid overtime wages, you should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.

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