Employees at one of the state’s largest hospital systems who argued they weren’t receiving overtime pay in a timely manner won damages from their employer in federal court this week.
Six employees at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City brought the suit against the Iowa Board of Regents, which oversees UIHC, on behalf of around 8,000 employees affected. Those employees, which include both health care professionals and other types of workers, are covered under an AFSCME bargaining unit.
Employees argued that paying them monthly was a violation of Iowa’s Wage Payment Collection Law, which mandates employers pay wages within 12 business days after the end of the period in which the wages were earned. Employees also argued their accrued vacation and sick pay was not paid out to former employees in a timely manner.
They asked for liquidated damages–money paid out on top of their owed wages–for their employer’s failure to do so.
Judge Stephanie Rose, hearing the case in US District Court in Davenport, said the Regents’ argument against the employees–that they signed hiring and bargaining contracts agreeing to the pay period–was “insufficient” and not “explicitly stated.”
“The policy led to employees being paid between twenty-eight to thirty-one days after the end of the pay period,” Rose wrote in her judgment. “This delay is not allowed by the Iowa Code.”
Rose noted employees were entitled to damages based on the wages, but not the vacation and sick pay issue, as they “have not submitted any evidence that employees received these payments in an untimely manner.”
UIHC changed their pay structure in response to the litigation last year, Rose noted.
“Judge Rose’s decision today represents a significant win for all workers in Iowa, and state employees in particular, who are forced to wait weeks and sometimes months for the wages they have earned,” said Nate Willems, an attorney with Rush Nicholson who represented the UIHC employees.
Willems said the exact amount of damages owed will be determined once the employer sends wage data for all affected employees.
You can read the full legal decision here.
By Amie Rivers
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