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Failure to Log Hours Dooms Nurse's FLSA Suit

Date: Nov 28, 2012

The Sixth Circuit recently held that a nurse could not file suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because she failed to use the exception log to report time worked during unpaid meal breaks.

In White v. Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, Margaret White was an emergency room nurse at Baptist Hospital; the hospital used an automatic meal deduction system. The employee handbook explained that if an employee were to miss a meal break because of work related reasons, the employee should record her time in an "exception log." Ms. White admitted that she was aware of the log, had previously used it, and was reimbursed for the time missed. However, she stopped using the log and did not notify her supervisors that she was not compensated for missing breaks. Under the FLSA, if an employer establishes a reasonable process for an employee to report uncompensated work time, the employer is not liable for non-payment if the employee fails to follow the established process. Because Ms. White failed to follow the established process, Baptist Hospital had no reason to know she was missing breaks.

Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit held that Ms. White could not recover damages under the FLSA and moreover could not retain her class certification status.

For more information about this and other employment matters, please contact:  Manesh K. Rath (+1 202.434.4182, rath@khlaw.com), or Jacquelyn L. Thompson (+1 202.434.4209, thompsonj@khlaw.com).