Local News: Medicalodges faces class action suit over employee pay (06/27/13)

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Medicalodges faces class action suit over employee pay

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A class action lawsuit against Medicalodges Inc. and its President, CEO and Chief Counsel, Garen Cox of Coffeyville, Kan., alleges the company violated federal law by not properly paying its hourly and salaried employees at nursing homes it operates.

The suit was filed May 24 by Kansas City Attorney Rowdy Meeks in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas on behalf of Jacqueline Folger of Goddard, Kan.

Medicalodges Inc., is a for-profit corporation headquartered in Kansas. The company operates 23 skilled nursing facilities in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, including one in Nevada. Cox works in Medicalodges corporate office located in Coffeyville, Kan.

Folger was hired to work at the Goddard, Kan., nursing home, May 25, 2010.

Meeks states in the lawsuit that Folger was originally classified as a non-exempt employee at a rate of $25 an hour. Her job routinely required her to work overtime, but she often was not paid for the overtime hours she worked.

Meeks alleges in the lawsuit Medicalodges improperly reclassified Folger and other MDS coordinators like her as exempt from overtime pay as set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The MDS coordinators did not meet standards set for in the FSLA, according to the suit.

The company also had a policy requiring hourly, non-exempt employees to work off the clock, before their shifts began and after it ended and during unpaid meal breaks, denying them straight time and overtime pay.

Employees were allegedly required to work off the clock to complete charting, assist residents or complete other takes.

Furthermore, Meeks alleges even though employees were required to work during unpaid meal times, they were required to clock out during the meal break or 30 minutes would automatically be deducted from the work hours, regardless of whether any work was performed during that 30-minute meal break.

Meeks also alleges in court documents the company's policy and practice is to "willfully deny its hourly, non-exempt employees overtime pay" for all hours worked including extra hours when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week. One way of doing that, he said, was the practice of "rounding down" the employees recorded hours.

Meeks said counts one and two of the lawsuit violate the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Count three of the complaint alleges a violation of the Kansas Wage Payment Act. Count four alleges unjust enrichment.

Folger demands a jury trial. She also seeks compensatory and liquidated damages for herself and all similarly situated employees, attorneys fees and costs and other compensation the court feels is fair and equitable.

According to Meeks and his associate Tracey George, several other plaintiffs have come on board the suit. Meeks said it is very early in the case, but he has been contacted by employees from the Nevada area.

Medicalodges employees from all three states are eligible to become part in the suit if "they worked there during the last three years."

Susan Hoosier, administrator of Medicalodges in Nevada, referred questions to the corporate office in Coffeyville. Also, neither Cox nor Medicalodges' public information officer at that location were available for comment and or messages left at the corporate offices were not returned by press time.

Editor's note: The filing of a lawsuit is an allegation made by one party against another. The complaint only represents one side of the story.

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