Registered Nurse Not Entitled to Overtime Pay

By Jeffrey L. Rhodes Jan 21, 2016
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A registered nurse employed by a workers’ compensation managed care services company does not provide nonexempt clerical services that would entitle her to overtime compensation, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Nancy Williams is a field medical case manager (FMCM) for Genex Services LLC. Genex provides managed care services to employers and workers' compensation insurers to control their health care and disability costs, ensure that quality healthcare is provided to injured workers, and improve return-to-work rates of employees. FMCMs help injured workers return to work as quickly, safely and cost-effectively as possible.

In her lawsuit, Williams claimed that most of her duties in reviewing case files of injured workers required her to work as a "mere scribe" because she was provided extensive forms to fill out. While Williams earned a salary in excess of $80,000 per year in her position as an FMCM, Williams claimed that she performed many hours of clerical work over 40 hours in a workweek and was entitled to overtime compensation for those hours.

Genex filed a motion for summary judgment to have the case dismissed prior to trial. Genex claimed that because Williams had the necessary education and licensure to act as a registered nurse, and used discretion and independent judgment when making determinations about injured workers, she was an exempt professional not entitled to overtime compensation. The federal district court agreed with Genex and dismissed Williams’ case.

Williams appealed the case to the 4th Circuit, which reviewed the standard for determining whether an employee meets the test of being a learned exempt professional. The 4th Circuit noted that the burden of proof was on the employer to establish that the exemption applies and found that Genex met its burden because Williams needed to have a degree and professional licensure to perform the duties of her job. Moreover, Williams used her medical knowledge and made important decisions about the care and treatment of injured workers. The 4th Circuit reviewed one file in which Williams determined that an accident was not the main cause of the employee’s injury, but that the worker was instead limited by a pre-existing condition. As a result, the 4th Circuit upheld the district court’s decision and ruled that Williams was not entitled to overtime.

Williams v. Genex Servs. LLC, 4th Cir., No. 14-1966 (Dec. 18, 2015).

Professional Pointer: In some cases, even professional employees can qualify for overtime compensation. Employers should make sure that workers with relatively high salaries and significant qualifications are performing high-level duties to avoid claims from those workers for overtime pay.

Jeffrey L. Rhodes is an attorney with Doumar Martin PLLC in Arlington, Va.

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