Nurse sues Ballad over alleged unpaid overtime

A nurse filed suit against Ballad Health, accusing the Johnson City, Tenn.-based system of requiring employees to work through unpaid meal breaks, court documents show. 

The organization's time card system automatically added unpaid, 30-minute meal breaks, but Ballad Health required staff to work through them, according to the plaintiff, Corey Hall. The health system's policy requires workers to "assist patients whenever a patient requests or needs assistance, even if on an unpaid meal break," the suit reads. 

Employees on break are told to find co-workers to help these patients, but because of staff shortages, they "rarely, if ever" could find a co-worker to cover them, the suit says. 

Mr. Hall was a travel nurse employed at Ballad Health's Kingsport, Tenn.-based Holston Valley Medical Center for about two years, and was at the system since 2018, before his termination on June 13, 2022. Mr. Hall claims he was fired in retaliation for raising concerns regarding unpaid overtime. 

The lawsuit requests Ballad Health be held liable for all unpaid wages, as well as compensatory and punitive damages totaling $800,000.  

"Mr. Hall's placement at Ballad Health through a temporary staffing agency was ended when it was discovered that he had provided false information regarding his place of residence in order to benefit from higher temporary staffing pay rates for himself, in violation of Ballad Health policy and Ballad Health's agreement with the staffing agency," Ballad Health said in response to the lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 22, NBC affiliate WCYB reported.

The system said it could not comment on the suit but added, "Ballad Health has clear policies and procedures to ensure staff who miss lunchtime are compensated for their time in accordance with state and federal law."

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