A proposed class and collective action accuses healthcare staffing agency Aya Healthcare, Inc. of routinely reducing the pay rates of travel nurses midway through their contracts.
According to the 37-page lawsuit, Aya’s apparent pay practices “appear to be a core tenet of the company’s business model” given that hundreds or potentially thousands of nurses employed by the staffing agency have reported mid-contact pay reductions, with some having had their pay reduced multiple times during a single assignment.
The case claims Aya’s bait-and-switch pay practices were designed to attract travel nurses with enticing pay packages, allowing the company to fill positions “knowing that it will never actually pay that amount after the employees begin the assignment.” Moreover, by reducing travel nurses’ pay, Aya can score a position as a healthcare provider’s exclusive staffing agency by advertising its ability to fill positions at a low cost to the provider, the suit alleges.
As the case tells it, nurses who work for Aya essentially have no other choice but to accept a pay reduction and finish out their assignments since they have already relocated to an assigned location, arranged short-term housing and likely have no other readily available employment. Further, Aya’s control over healthcare facilities in some areas, through its network of exclusive contracts, is so significant that a nurse who refuses to complete an assignment at the reduced pay rate risks being “blacklisted” from working at all facilities in the area, the lawsuit alleges.
According to the suit, Aya’s “take-it-or-leave-it” demands constitute an unlawful breach of contract and are unenforceable.
Moreover, the lawsuit says that Aya has violated federal and state labor laws by failing to pay travel nurses at the proper overtime rate. As the suit tells it, the staffing agency miscalculates nurses’ time-and-a-half overtime rates by excluding from their regular pay rates certain remuneration, including holiday, charge, on-call and call-back pay and stipends for meals and housing. The suit alleges that although Aya classifies these types of pay as “expense reimbursement,” they are in truth a form of compensation related to workers’ hours, and not the amounts of expenses actually incurred.
The three plaintiffs in the case are travel nurses who each accepted fixed-term assignments with Aya under certain conditions, including a set base hourly pay rate, a minimum number of scheduled hours per week, an overtime pay rate, holiday and call-back pay rates, a daily meals and incidentals stipend, and a daily housing stipend.
One of the plaintiffs says that about seven weeks through her assignment, Aya demanded that she accept a more than 50-percent cut to her base hourly rate and similar reductions to her overtime, holiday and call-back rates in order to finish her assignment. Since she had already spent “substantial time and money” relocating across the country and had no prospect of finding other employment on such short notice, the plaintiff “had no real choice” but to accept Aya’s offer and finish her assignment for a total payout of over $5,000 less than she would have received under the initial contract, according to the complaint.
The other two plaintiffs relay similar experiences, with one nurse stating that Aya reduced her pay twice during her roughly three-month assignment, even though she refused to sign the new agreements. Per the case, the woman’s base hourly pay rate was reduced more than 60 percent from her original contract with Aya, with a difference of more than $10,000.
The third plaintiff says she refused the pay reduction and was “forced to return home.” According to the suit, the difference between the value of the woman’s original agreement with Aya and the pay reduction was at least $15,000.
The plaintiffs look to represent anyone who entered into a travel agreement with Aya and whose total compensation was reduced before the end of the agreed-upon term.
Also proposed is a class that includes anyone who entered into a travel agreement with Aya to work at a facility or location in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, or Wisconsin, who worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, and whose regular pay rate did not include holiday, charge, on-call or call-back pay, or stipends for meals and incidentals or housing.
Finally, the lawsuit also looks to cover anyone currently or formerly employed by Aya at any time within the past three years and until the present who worked more than 40 hours in a workweek and whose regular pay rate did not include holiday, charge, on-call or call-back pay or stipends for meals and incidentals or housing.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s newsletter here.
Camp Lejeune residents may soon have the opportunity to claim compensation for harm suffered from contaminated water.