Maxim Healthcare Services is a nationwide provider of in-home medical care services. Currently, the company is facing two class-action lawsuits both alleging the company has violated various state and federal laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not paying its salaried employees overtime.
Recently, a federal judge in Ohio granted early-stage certification to a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit filed by Maxim Healthcare Services Inc. employees. By doing this, the judge has moved the employment lawsuit forward. The case hinges on whether or not the companionship services are exempt to the FLSA.
Following is an update on Maxim Ohio unpaid overtime and Wage and Hour Litigation:
• In October 2012, a Maxim unpaid overtime lawsuit was filed in Ohio by Jasmine Lawrence, who was employed as a Home Health Aide by the defendant until October 2012.
• In the Ohio lawsuit (Lawrence v. Maxim Healthcare Services Inc., case No. 1:12-cv-02600, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio), Lawrence alleges that Maxim Healthcare Services Inc. violated, and continues to violate, the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act (OMFWSA) because of its willful failure to compensate her and the class members at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for work performed in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Lawrence claims she regularly worked over 70 hours per week while employed by Maxim Healthcare, and the majority of her time was spent performing general housekeeping duties as opposed to patient care.
• Lawrence also alleges that she and the members of the putative class who are employed by the Defendant in Ohio are “employees” within the meaning of the OMFWSA.
• In September 2013, US District Judge Christopher A. Boyko agreed to allow lead plaintiff Jasmine Lawrence to apprise potential opt-in plaintiffs of the matter via e-mails, workplace posters and payroll check add-ons, and ordered Maxim to comply with discovery on potential opt-ins that Lawrence requested as part of the litigation.
• Further, the judge found that Lawrence had carried her “slight burden” for winning FLSA conditional certification - essentially showing that class members were victimized by a single decision, policy or plan, according to the order.
• “At the opt-in stage of proceedings, the court must consider whether plaintiffs can demonstrate that the alleged putative collective class suffered from single FLSA-violating policy,” Judge Boyko wrote.
• In making his decision to move the class action forward, Judge Boyko heard from Lawrence and two other plaintiffs who all alleged that throughout their employment with Maxim they were not paid overtime compensation at the FLSA-mandated time-and-a-half hourly rate. All three plaintiffs also claim to have knowledge of other Maxim employees who performed the same duties as themselves and who also did not receive overtime pay.
• Lawrence asserted that Maxim imposed non-exempt domestic duties such as meal preparation and service, kitchen cleaning, grocery shopping, personal hygiene, making beds, and various other duties under what it termed a “plan for care,” despite having categorized its home health aides as companionship exemption under the FLSA.
• Notably, the total number of hours Lawrence spent on household chores exceeded 80 percent of her job duties, the number stipulated by the FLSA as qualifying for exemption status. Nevertheless, Lawrence claims she was paid a straight hourly rate for workweeks that sometimes exceeded 70 hours, and she provided pay stubs as proof.
• According to the complaint, Maxim “should have known from its experience” not to underpay home healthcare aides after a Florida federal court class action filed in 2008, in which a judge rejected the company’s bid for summary judgment on the alleged misclassification “after analyzing the precise nature of the work defendant’s home health aides did.”
Second Maxim Wage & Hour Class Action
• In August 2013, a second unpaid overtime class action was filed against Maxim by a salaried health care recruiter working from a Maxim office. The lawsuit contends that the plaintiff and those similarly situated were denied overtime compensation after working in excess of 40 hours a week throughout their employment performing non-exempt work, in direct violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
• The class includes all current and former salaried recruiters, including healthcare recruiters, homecare recruiters, staffing recruiters and senior recruiters, who were employed by Maxim Healthcare Services Inc. at any time during the past three years.
Maxim Employees Collective Action
• Discovery is currently underway in another collective action against Maxim in Georgia federal court, this one on behalf of salaried recruiters who also allege they were misclassified.
Maxim Settlements and Dismissals
• In June 2012, Maxim paid $12.3 million to settle three federal cases brought on behalf of recruiters.
• Also in 2012, Maxim nurses failed to win class certification on their overtime claims in California federal court.
• Over 14,000 people have been employed as Maxim home health aides, including more than 4,000 in Ohio.
• Court documents indicate that Maxim has contracts to provide hundreds of state and federal government agencies and private insurers with home health care staffing services.
• Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. is a Maryland corporation which, through hundreds of office locations nationwide, provides in-home personal care, management and/or treatment of a variety of conditions by nurses, therapists, medical social workers and home health aides.