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Health Care Tech Firm Faces Overtime Class Action

Health Care Tech Firm Faces Overtime Class Action
Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

An overtime class action has been filed against CereCore, a subsidiary of hospital giant HCA Healthcare. CereCore began life as HCA's in-house technology department, but in the last 15 years morphed into a stand-alone company offering healthcare staffing services nationally and internationally, with a focus on technology and health information system implementations.

The Complaint (attached below) was filed in Federal District Court in Nashville, where HCA and CereCore are headquartered. It alleges that HCA and CereCore, as joint employers, utilized the plaintiffs to provide support and training to personnel of clients using a new medical recordkeeping system. The Complaint asserts that class workers were hired as independent contractors, worked up to 12 hours a day during the workweek, and did not receive overtime pay. It also takes pains to assert that they were not overtime exempt under the often-misunderstood computer employee exemption.

The staffing industry has two diametrically opposing views on the use of independent contractors. The companies that use them, particularly in the tech field and professional staffing, are of course supportive of the practice. On the other hand, many firms and some industry trade groups, such as the American Staffing Association, see the use of IC's as a form of unfair competition, because the firms are avoiding the tax and benefit costs of their competitors.

In the end, it is the courts and regulators who have the last say. Occasional use of independent contractors in the staffing context is not necessarily high risk. But large-scale use can result in significant exposure, up to and including "bet the company" scenarios, as seen in the ongoing litigation between the U.S. Department of labor and Arise Virtual Solutions, which placed 22,000 workers into call center roles as independent contractors.

U.S. Department of Labor Takes on Questionable Independent Contracting Practices
The traditional risk of using independent contractors, a/k/a “1099’s,” is an audit by the IRS or state taxing authorities. In recent years, state auditors have been more aggressive than the IRS because of manpower limitations at the IRS. This may change in the future because of better IRS

Staffing Legal news is following the story, as we will with the CereCore case.