$160M VA settlement ordered for clinicians unpaid for updating EHRs

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been ordered to pay $160 million to settle claims that 3,200 clinicians worked unpaid overtime to update EHRs, according to Oct. 29 court documents obtained by Becker's.

Five things to know:

  1. The lawsuit, filed in December 2012, alleged that 3,207 nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants currently or formerly employed by the VA worked overtime to update patients' EHRs and respond to patient notifications in the VA's EHR and were not paid for their work.

  2. According to the lawsuit, VA staffers misinterpreted the VA handbook and details about when employees should be paid for overtime. VA staffers said they thought employees had to work a certain number of hours each week to qualify for overtime. But the court found that employees are entitled to overtime whenever they work in excess of their eight-hour daily work schedule.

  3. The court said it understood why the VA handbook was misinterpreted because the language is confusing, but agreed that employees were entitled to receive overtime for their work performed.

    "[O]vertime hours are those hours of work performed in excess of the basic work requirement for a scheduled period of service day (but must be in excess of eight consecutive hours) or for a week (but must be in excess of 40 hours), or in excess of 80 hours in the pay period," the VA's handbook states.

  4. The settlement will provide each class member about $50,000.

  5. A spokesperson for the VA told Becker's that the "VA is unable to comment on the litigation, but we are pleased that the long-standing matter was concluded with an amicable settlement between the parties."

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