Nurses sue staffing agency, allege they were made to choose pay cut or job loss

Three nurses have filed a lawsuit alleging that staffing company Maxim Healthcare Services defrauded them through a "take-it-or-leave-it" strategy that forced them to accept less pay or lose their jobs, Law360 reported Aug. 1.

Carolyn Miller, Teayl Miller and Jennifer Reents filed the class-action complaint July 29 in federal court in Maryland.

The nurses, who said they accepted travel assignments through Columbia, Md.-based Maxim to work at healthcare facilities in Wisconsin, Nebraska and California, allege that after they had executed Maxim's form travel assignment, the company demanded they take a pay cut or be terminated. In one instance, Maxim demanded Carolyn Miller accept an approximately 28 percent base hourly pay rate cut, from $125 to $90, to finish the previously agreed-upon assignment, the lawsuit said.

"Maxim is offering contracts to travel nurses with a fixed-term assignment at an agreed-upon pay rate. After the nurse accepts the position and starts the assignment, Maxim makes a 'take-it-or-leave-it' demand to accept less pay or be terminated," the lawsuit said. "Of course, most nurses have no choice but continue working the assignment at the lower rate because they have no reasonable alternatives for comparable employment: they have already incurred travel expenses, secured short-term housing and uprooted their lives to accept the assignment."

The nurses allege breach of contract and contend Maxim is "knowingly engaging in these 'bait-and-switch' practices to maintain the significant profit margins it had become accustomed to during the COVID-19 pandemic."

They also allege Maxim is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by underpaying travel workers for overtime hours worked.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Maxim said: "It is our general practice not to discuss pending legal matters. The organization has partnered with healthcare providers and professionals for more than three decades and has a well-established track record of supporting and connecting healthcare professionals to work that matters."

The lawsuit seeks compensatory, consequential, general, nominal, statutory, and punitive or exemplary damages.

 

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