On June 22, 2017, Judge Willis B. Hunt of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted final approval to a settlement agreement between 146 plaintiffs and Gentiva Health Services, Inc. Plaintiffs and their counsel believe they have reached a fair and reasonable settlement of the disputed claims.
On July 26, 2013, Judge Steve C. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted plaintiff clinicians’ motion for partial summary judgment and denied Defendant Gentiva Health Services’ cross-motions for summary judgment. In a thorough opinion, Judge Jones held that clinicians who were paid under Gentiva’s “pay per visit” compensation plan were misclassified as exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The Court explained that because Gentiva compensated clinicians on the “pay per visit” plan for non-visit work based on the time it takes to complete the non-visit work, the compensation plan did not meet the requirements for exemption from overtime. The Court therefore concluded that plaintiff clinicians were entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per week. The Court ordered that the case proceed into a damages phase to determine how much overtime compensation plaintiffs are due.
On November 4, 2013, Judge Jones denied Gentiva’s motion to certify his summary judgment order for interlocutory appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. Judge Jones found that there was no substantial ground for a difference of opinion on the questions resolved in the order granting plaintiffs summary judgment and thus no basis for an interlocutory appeal. The Court also ordered Gentiva to file a motion to decertify the case as a collective action within 30 days, and indicated that the scope and schedule for damages discovery would be determined after the Court’s decision on whether the case will continue to proceed as a collective action.
A nationwide class action lawsuit was filed on May 10, 2010 against one the country’s largest home health care service providers. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the lawsuit asserts that Gentiva Health Services, Inc. (GTIV-NASDAQ) (“Gentiva”) violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The case was later transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
On April 13, 2011, the Court granted plaintiffs’ requests to preliminarily certify the class and to provide notice of the collective action and the opportunity to join the lawsuit to current and former Gentiva clinicians. Pursuant to the Court’s order, Plaintiffs sent notice of the lawsuit and the opportunity to join to registered nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists who were employed by Gentiva at any time since April 13, 2008. Over 1,000 clinicians joined the collective action. The case is thus currently proceeding as a collective action on behalf of these home health care clinicians.
The lawsuit, entitled Rindfleisch, et al. v. Gentiva Health Services, Inc., asserts that Gentiva, which employs some 30,000 health care workers, treats visiting nurses and other health care providers as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA and refuses to pay these employees for all hours worked. The lawsuit complains that Gentiva pays nurses and other health care providers on a “per visit” basis for some work, an hourly rate for other work, and fails to pay anything at all for other hours worked. Plaintiffs allege this hybrid compensation scheme does not meet the requirements of state or federal wage and hour law.
Attorneys at Martin & Jones, PLLC, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and the Law Offices of Gilda A. Hernandez, PLLC have requested in the complaint and will move the court to conditionally certify the lawsuit as a nationwide FLSA class action and provide all similarly situated employees notice for an opportunity to join the lawsuit so that all current and former Gentiva registered nurses, therapists, and other health care providers who are not paid for all hours worked may be eligible to participate in this legal action.
“Gentiva’s hybrid compensation scheme encourages employees to take on more patient visits, and work longer hours, while Gentiva reaps the benefits by reducing their labor costs and boosting their profit margins,” said Jill Hernandez, who previously worked for over ten years as a Wage and Hour Investigator with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Christine Webber, a partner at Cohen Milstein who has represented thousands of workers in wage and hour cases, noted: “These nurses are dedicated to their patients. They are caring for parents and grandparents, enabling them to stay in their own homes. We are equally dedicated to ensuring that these health care providers are paid for all the hours they work.”
Martin & Jones, PLLC and The Law Offices of Gilda A. Hernandez, PLLC are based in North Carolina, where the first two class representatives live, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC has offices in Washington, DC and New York.