A federal judge has given final approval to an $865,000 settlement that resolved claims from 55 behavioral health professionals alleging they were denied overtime pay by the clinic where they worked.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth T. Hey of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania approved the settlement class of clinicians, behavioral specialist consultants, and therapists who logged overtime hours at Progressions Behavioral Health Services.
The class members alleged they were misclassified as independent contractors and wrongly denied overtime and other employee benefits, as well as payment for other work that was deemed “non-billable.” Their case was brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Of the $865,000, the class members will receive $542,500 plus $3,700 in costs. The three class representatives will each receive a $10,000 award, along with $3,250 in expenses, according to Hey’s memorandum. Class attorneys are slated to receive one-third of the overall settlement.
Participating class members will receive anywhere from $500 to a maximum of $70,000 from the settlement fund on a pro rata basis, determined by the degree of their wage shortfall, Hey said.
Hey conditionally certified the class on May 8.
“We’re very pleased with the result,” said class counsel, Michael Murphy of the Murphy Law Group in Philadelphia.
Progressions’ attorney, Eric B. Meyer of Dilworth Paxson in Philadelphia, did not return a call seeking comment.
Murphy said the settlement was agreed upon after a day of negotiation in mediation handled by retired Judge Thomas M. Blewitt of JAMS.
According to Hey, all of the class members were similarly situated, making it appropriate for the class to move forward to the settlement phase.
“The class members were all non-exempt, hourly employees of defendant, and all were paid the same way and were subject to the same payroll and time-keeping practices,” Hey said. “Not surprisingly, therefore, each member of the class has virtually identical claims—specifically, that defendant misclassified them as independent contractors and thereby failed to pay them statutorily-mandated overtime compensation and wages, and failed to pay them for certain work deemed ‘non-billable’ by defendant.”
At the time of the settlement, the case was not close to going to trial, and had been stayed for roughly three months after the discovery period. Negotiations began after the stay, and Hey said the agreement was met with an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the class members.
“I conclude that the settlement is fair to the class members. The settlement came about after extensive arm’s-length negotiations and resolves a bona fide dispute over unpaid compensation and wages,” Hey said.