Medical Transcriptionists Say Enough is Enough
Today the law offices of Kevin J. Dolley announced they have filed an individual and collective class action lawsuit against Transcend for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The nationwide collective lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13 current or former medical transcriptionists who are or have been employed by Transcend. Filing as a class action also means the lawsuit is done on behalf of other MTs who are or have been an employee of the company in the past three years.
Dolley’s website quotes the actions in the lawsuit as:
The lawsuit alleges that the failure to compensate Medical Language Specialists for activities other than “hand on keyboard time” led many of these workers to either not be paid at least $7.25 per hour, or work in excess of 40 hours per work week without being paid time-and-a-half their regular rate of pay.
The lawsuit further alleges that Medical Language Specialists “flexed” their assigned work shifts in the event that there were no medical records to be edited or transcribed in Plaintiffs’ electronic queue at any point during their shift. Time “flexing” required Medical Language Specialists to be on call and log in and out of Transcend’s transcription/editing software for extended periods of time, frequently until well after their assigned shift ends, to meet the minimum requirement for lines edited or transcribed during a given shift.
The complete copy of the complaint can be read here.
What is interesting in this suit is that it tackles what has been a longstanding issue in our industry: MTs not being paid for anything but “hands on keyboard time.” That means if you stop to do research, if you have a technical issue, etc., you’re not supposed to count that time as hours worked. And yet all of those things are necessary to complete the documents we transcribe.
The suit asks for liquidated damages, which could be double of what one was not paid under FLSA, as well as attorney fees, pre and post judgement interest, and all reasonable costs associated with this action. What I particularly like in the wording of the suit is this: “Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief under 29 U.S.C. § 217 to stop Defendant’s unlawful pay practices and establish that such unlawful practices within the healthcare industry are no longer permissible.” (Emphasis is mine)
The suit will have to be certified as a class action, however, I can’t imagine that one’s going to be too difficult to prove. In a company this size, I imagine there will be many more than 13 who have found themselves in situations where they either are not paid overtime or have made less than minimum wage.
Imagine the potential of how this could change our industry. I believe these women are brave for standing up for themselves, and for the industry as a whole. In talking with some of them it’s clear that they want to make a difference in our industry and how things are done. Imagine it actually meaning that MTs are no longer receiving calls where they are told they must alter their time cards to reflect less than their actual hours worked so that a company can avoid either paying at least minimum wage or overtime pay. Imagine things changing such that you are required to flex your hours to get in your minimum production, you actually get to count those hours as hours worked. I’d sure love to see these kind of things stopped in our industry.
One also has to wonder what role Nuance will now play in this lawsuit since they have purchased Transcend. I remember reading in the sale documents that Transcend attested they had no violations of Federal labor laws so I imagine there will be some definite conversations in the next few weeks. It will be interesting to follow.
Is This Just the Beginning?
While this suit only applies to one company, I find myself wondering if it will give MTs at other companies who are dealing with the same issues the courage to speak up. I also wonder if some of this might lead to potential state suits down the road as it progresses since some states have higher minimum wage requirements than the federal law. At the very least, MTs who want answers to whether they can do anything for their own situation do have an attorney who knows our industry now that they could contact if they chose to do that. I have had an opportunity to speak with Attorney Dolley. I believe he gets our industry and believe he’s sharp. If I were personally in a situation like this, I’d be talking to him myself.
In a tribute to the women who have signed on as plaintiffs for this, I offer the following song, which does seem to be their mantra these days:
Okay let’s have some dialogue? What are your thoughts on this? Think it’s time someone stood up for our industry? I hope we have some great dialogue here! Please also take a minute to share this with the share bar on the left and invite your friends to participate in the conversation.
Filed under: Challenges in Medical Transcription
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