One of the several groups of nurses pressing class-action wage and hour lawsuits against hospital employers has suffered yet another legal setback, as a federal judge in upstate New York rejected a formula offered by the nurses to calculate damages based on comparisons to temporary workers.
Judge rejects nurses' formula for damages
In each of the five federal lawsuits, filed with the support of the Service Employees International Union, the nurses have argued that hospital employers illegally conspired to depress nurse wages by sharing information on how much each pays its nurses. The nurses have said their ability to increase wages by, for example, changing employers has been damaged by the hospitals’ allegedly anticompetitive behavior.
In Albany, N.Y., Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy ruled on Feb. 13 that the nurses could not argue that, as a class, their wages had been uniformly depressed as compared to the higher rates that hospitals pay to similarly educated temporary agency nurses.
Regardless of whether such a comparison between staff and traveling nurse wages was legally sound, McAvoy ruled that the individual staff nurses could not argue their wages were affected identically because of wide variation in pay based on experience, job title, education, training, and other factors.
Ongoing suits have also been filed in Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., and San Antonio.
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