As a general rule, registered nurses are not considered exempt professional employees under California labor laws. (California Labor Code section 515(f).) However, Kaiser Permanente considered its many nurse case managers to be exempt under the administrative or executive exemption in section 515. It took two nurse case managers speaking up to investigate and press the issue to get it resolved through this class action lawsuit. They contacted Quest Law Firm which investigated and brought in The Law Office of Kevin Barnes, which specializes in class actions, to jointly pursue the claims.
When employees are mischaracterized as being exempt from overtime laws, there is inevitably are substantial hours of unpaid overtime, missed meal and rest breaks, and other labor law violations. Here, the employer is perhaps the largest private employer in the state of California, and the mischaracterization involved a class of about 1,750 nurse case managers. The case resulted in two favorable settlements for the same job descriptions over to periods of time amounting to a total settlement payment of $22.97 million, and Kaiser reclassified the case managers as nonexempt.
Where appropriate, class actions are and effective way for numerous employees with claims that individually would be difficult to pursue to join together and pursue them economically and orderly. And, as in this case, they can effect positive changes for employees going forward.