A former GetWellNetwork, Inc. client support specialist alleges she and similarly situated employees were not paid proper overtime wages, and that she was unlawfully fired after requesting a reasonable medical disability accommodation and complaining about software updates supposedly pushed out without customers’ consent.
According to the plaintiff’s proposed class action, GetWellNetwork, a healthcare company that offers computer software solutions for medical practices, has misclassified its California client support specialists as exempt from receiving time-and-a-half overtime wages for the hours they work in excess of 40 each week. Per the complaint, the workers do not fall under any relevant overtime exemptions under California law.
More specifically, the case claims client support specialists do not fall under the state’s executive exemption given they are not employed to manage the affairs of a recognized subdivision or unit of GetWellNetwork or its customers, nor have any authority to direct, hire or fire other employees or customers’ employees.
The administrative exemption also does not apply to client support specialists in that the workers’ job duties are not directly related to GetWellNetwork’s management or general business operations, the suit argues. In the same sense, GetWellNetwork employees are not permitted to regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment as to matters of significance, the lawsuit says.
The professional exemption similarly does not apply to client support specialists’ duties given the workers are not primarily engaged in “an occupation commonly recognized as a learned or artistic profession” and are not required to hold any specific degree, license or training, the compaint adds.
Because client support specialists did not spend at least half of their time engaged in exempt work, they should have been classified as non-exempt employees entitled to overtime pay, the plaintiff contests.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that although GetWellNetwork has classified client support specialists as computer software employees, they are paid less than the minimum salary required for the computer software employee exemption under the California Labor Code.
The plaintiff, who worked for the defendants as a tier 2 client support specialist between May 2019 and February 2020, says she began to suffer from a lower back condition aggravated by sitting for long periods of time during her employment with the company. In December 2019, the plaintiff’s doctor recommended that she utilize a stand-up desk while working for GetWellNetwork, the suit says. Though the plaintiff sent in a timely accommodation request to her employer, neither her insurer nor GetWellNetwork participated in a “timely good-faith interactive process” with the woman to determine whether an accommodation could be made before denying her request, the case avers.
Per the complaint, the plaintiff was discharged in late February 2020 in retaliation for requesting a reasonable accommodation related to her medical condition, which the suit says qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A week before the plaintiff’s discharge, the woman informed her director, an individual defendant in the lawsuit, that she “didn’t want to be in a position where she had to lie” to the company’s customers with regard to a software update that was being pushed out without their prior notice or approval. On the day the plaintiff was discharged, the director “clearly stated” to the woman that he “didn’t like being challenged by her statements about the software updates,” the lawsuit says.
Per the complaint, the defendants attempted to hide the true reason for the plaintiff’s discharge by falsely reporting to customers and a credit reporting agency that she had “retired.” The lawsuit relays that an internal email sent by the company’s chief people officer revealed that the plaintiff was fired because she failed a phishing test, which the complaint claims does not require termination in accordance with company policy and practice. Similarly, GetWellNetwork’s policies do not allow workers to be fired for requesting reasonable accommodations for disabilities, the suit says.
“GETWELLNETWORK’s personnel policies and procedures prohibit the termination of employees for making accommodation requests for their physical and medical conditions and do not require the discharge of an employee who fails a phishing test, but GETWELLNETWORK did not follow such personnel policies and procedures in discharging [the plaintiff],” the lawsuit reads.
The case, originally filed in San Diego County Superior Court in October and recently removed to California’s Southern District Court, looks to cover anyone employed by GetWellNetwork as a client support specialist in the state at any time within the past four years and until the date of trial.
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