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Aetna Care Management Employee Misclassification FLSA Class Action

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One of the most common allegations in labor class actions is the misclassification of employees as exempt (from overtime pay). The complaint for this class action alleges that Aetna Life Insurance Company and Aetna, Inc. misclassified certain categories of employees. In so doing, the complaint says, it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Collective Class for this action is all individuals employed by Aetna Life Insurance and Aetna, Inc. as care management employees over the last three years, who received pay on a salary basis, who worked more than forty hours in one or more work weeks, and who file consent forms to take part in this lawsuit.

Plaintiff Mildred Winston and other of her co-workers performed “utilization review and care coordination functions to reduce the costs of medical care” under a number of different job titles. These included Registered Nurse/RN, Case/Care Manager, Case/Care Management, and Utilization Review/Management. Together, these people can be called care management employees.

Winston says that care management employees regularly worked more than forty hours per week but were classified as exempt employees. That means that they were considered to be exempt from state and federal rules about overtime pay and did not have to be paid overtime. 

However, in spite of this classification, the complaint says that they performed primarily non-exempt kinds of work. Their duties included collecting information to document medical circumstances, entering medical information into a computer system, applying established criteria and guidelines to maximize the use of plan resources, coordinating care (by arranging appointments, getting referrals, and obtaining authorizations), providing members with information about their health plan and other resources, and so on.

This care management work, the complaint says, involved duties that were “routine and rote and did not include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.” During this time, Winston’s duties “did not involve providing traditional nursing care in a clinical setting, providing bedside nursing, or providing direct medical care to individuals.”

These things—the nature of the work, whether discretion or judgment was involved in it—are considerations in determining whether a job is properly classified as exempt or not.

The sole count in this case is the question of whether Winston and her co-workers in similar positions were properly classified as exempt or whether they should have been paid overtime wages for hours worked over forty per week.

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