U.S. Labor Dept. Sues North Central Health Care Over Unpaid Overtime

The US Department of Labor has filed a federal complaint against North Central Health Care (NCHC) in Wisconsin, alleging the organization denied overtime pay to case managers in its community treatment program, violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. The complaint seeks back wages, damages, and an injunction, highlighting the importance of enforcing fair labor practices in the healthcare industry to prevent burnout, turnover, and compromised patient care. This description focuses on the primary topic of the labor complaint, the main entity of North Central Health Care, and the context of the healthcare industry. It also mentions the significant actions and consequences of the complaint, including the pursuit of back wages and damages. The description provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as a image of a healthcare worker or a courtroom scene.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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U.S. Labor Dept. Sues North Central Health Care Over Unpaid Overtime

U.S. Labor Dept. Sues North Central Health Care Over Unpaid Overtime

The United States Department of Labor has filed a federal complaint against North Central Health Care (NCHC) in Wausau, Wisconsin, alleging the organization denied overtime pay to case managers in its community treatment program. The complaint, filed on May 14, 2024, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, seeks back wages, liquidated damages, and an injunction against NCHC for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Why this matters: This lawsuit highlights the importance of enforcing fair labor practices in the healthcare industry, which employs millions of workers nationwide. Failure to comply with wage laws can have far-reaching consequences, including burnout, turnover, and compromised patient care.

An investigation by the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that case managers employed by North Central Community Services Program and affiliates worked unrecorded overtime hours between June 17, 2021, and June 16, 2023. Current and former employees reported working off-the-clock, having a heavy case load, and facing reluctance or refusal from management to approve the overtime necessary to complete their work.

"These case managers continued to go above and beyond to service the needs of their clients, while their employer refused to hear their complaints and pay them the wages they rightfully earned for their hard work and dedication," said Wage and Hour District Director Kristin Tout in Minneapolis. "Employers are legally responsible for knowing and complying with federal wage laws."

North Central Health Care had established a policy requiring case managers to seek approval for overtime. However, in practice, management allegedly refused to approve overtime, including by not answering phone calls from case managers seeking approval. The company also failed to address employee complaints about unreasonable workload, resulting in undocumented overtime.

North Central Health Care is a medical care partnership between Marathon, Lincoln, and Langlade counties that offers a variety of public health services, including community treatment services, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and youth crisis care. The Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $31.8 million in back wages for workers in the healthcare industry nationwide in fiscal year 2023.

The complaint against North Central Health Care underscores the Department of Labor's commitment to enforcing wage and hour laws in the healthcare sector. As the case proceeds, it will be closely watched by labor advocates and healthcare industry stakeholders alike. WSAU News has reached out to NCHC for comment and will provide updates as the story develops.

Key Takeaways

  • US Dept. of Labor files complaint against North Central Health Care (NCHC) for denying overtime pay to case managers.
  • NCHC allegedly refused to approve overtime, resulting in undocumented hours worked between June 2021 and June 2023.
  • Case managers reported working off-the-clock, having heavy case loads, and facing management reluctance to approve overtime.
  • The complaint seeks back wages, liquidated damages, and an injunction against NCHC for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • This lawsuit highlights the importance of enforcing fair labor practices in the healthcare industry.