Nurses at two branches of Methodist Hospital’s Texas Medical Center were granted conditional certification in a class action lawsuit alleging that the Houston chain of hospitals routinely forced them to work without pay during scheduled meal breaks.

As reported on Law360 (subscription required), the suit alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and seeks unpaid overtime wages and attorneys’ fees. The complaint claims that the plaintiffs experienced repeated interruption of their 30-minute breaks to assist doctors, monitor blood work, and prepare charts, among other tasks.

In addition, nurses were required to keep their cell phones on hand to respond to hospital personnel at any time, including during breaks. The suit also alleges the hospital deducted their pay, even if they skipped breaks or were forced back into work.

The class – which could potentially include some 4,000 members – is comprised of nurses who were employed by Methodist Hospital’s Texas Medical Center during any period from Nov. 13, 2011 to the present and were subjected to the hospital’s automatic meal deduction policy or interruptions during meal breaks.

Wage and overtime violations deprive hard-working people of compensation to which they are entitled. If you suspect that an employer has denied you fair compensation, please contact an attorney in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group right away – time is not on your side!