May 7, 2013

UMass Memorial Agrees To $2.2M Wage Settlement

UMass Memorial Health Care has tentatively agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a three-year-long pay dispute with employees who alleged the organization did not adequately pay them for time worked.

A motion to review the proposal was filed in U.S. District Court on May 1, and Rob Brogna, spokesman for UMass Memorial, confirmed an agreement had been reached.

"The parties have reached an agreement subject to court approval and we cannot comment on the case at this time," Brogna said in an e-mail.

The settlement follows two appeals filed by plaintiffs in the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The original lawsuit, which named two former UMass Memorial employees as plaintiffs, claimed the Worcester-based health care system violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it did not adequately pay employees who regularly worked through meal times, before and after shifts, and through training sessions, which, together with their work hours, exceeded 40 hours a week, according to court documents.

It's unclear how many employees are eligible to collect money through the proposed settlement, but court documents show the original plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of themselves and more than 13,000 other hourly employees of the UMass Memorial system, which includes UMass Memorial Medical Center, Health Alliance Hospital, Marlborough Hospital, the Clinton Hospital Association and Wing Memorial Hospital.

Along with the hospital system, the suit named former CEO John O'Brien and former human resources director Deborah Webb as defendants.

Patrick Solomon, the New York-based attorney for the plaintiffs, confirmed a settlement had been reached but declined to discuss the case in detail. He said the parties are waiting for the court to approve the deal.

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