On September 3, 2014, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled that Centene Company of Texas, a managed healthcare company whose business it is administer government sponsored health insurance plans, misclassified its utilization nurses. As a utilization review nurse, the Plaintiffs’ primary duty is to review medical authorization requests against pre-determined guidelines and criteria to verify “medical necessity” and the “appropriate level of care” for health insurance coverage and payment purposes. In response to the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment and relying on the vast factual record in this case brought under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), Judge Sam Sparks ruled that the Plaintiffs are not exempt from the FLSA’s overtime laws and thus are eligible for overtime pay. He further held that Centene’s claim that each Plaintiff’s claim would need to be analyzed individually to determine liability and damages was “hogwash,” considering the similarities in the record. The order did not resolve questions of whether Centene Company of Texas violated federal law willfully or whether the Plaintiffs are entitled to double damages.
Plaintiffs’ Counsel Rachhana T. Srey stated, “we are extremely pleased with the Judge’s rulings. We have been arguing for years that workers who perform utilization review work like the Plaintiffs in this case are not exempt from federal and state law overtime protections, and should be paid for the extra hours that they are often required to put in because of their employer’s productivity standards. We are excited to be able to proceed as collective group for our February 2015 trial, and are confident that we will prevail on the remaining issues.”
Plaintiffs are represented by Rachhana T. Srey and Alexander M. Baggio from Nichols Kaster, PLLP, which has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California, and David Langenfeld of Dunham & Jones, P.C. in Austin, Texas. The case is entitled Clark, et al. v. Centene Company of Texas, L.P., No. A-12-CA-174-SS (W.D. Tex.). Additional information can be found at www.nka.com.