County nursing home subject of class-action suit

A lawsuit has been filed against the Ashtabula County Nursing Home.

KINGSVILLE TOWNSHIP — The Ashtabula County Nursing Home is being sued by employees who claim they were not paid proper overtime.

Three of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio — Wendy Caruso, Amara Kantola and Leora Kotnik — are former employees. The other four plaintiffs — Tracey Caylor, Abigail Long, Michelle Loudermilk and Sonni Berdine — are still employed there, according to the lawsuit.

The suit claims the nursing home violated the Fair Labor Standards Act as a result of practices and policies of not paying non-exempt employees the full amount of earned wages and overtime compensation at a rate of time-and-a-half.

The employees were all paid on an hourly basis and required to punch in and out, the suit states. 

“When compensating its employees, defendant consistently used a rounding system to calculate the hours worked by employees,” the suit states.

“Defendant consistently rounded down the number of hours worked by Plaintiffs and the putative class members and thus, paid Plaintiffs and putative class members less than the number of hours actually worked.”

Beyond not receiving full pay for regular hours worked, the suit claims the employees never received full overtime pay for hours they worked over 80 hours in a two-week pay period.

Rules set in the Ohio County Commissioners Handbook state that county nursing homes may compensate non-exempt employees who work overtime compensatory time off, the suit states.

The nursing home cannot adopt a “use it or lose it” rule when it comes to compensatory time off, the report states.

“Contrary to the handbook and federal and state law, Defendant created and enforced a policy that Plaintiffs and putative class members would lose any compensatory time not used within a six month period,” the suit states.

The suit claims the nursing home also failed to properly calculate the overtime rates in regards to non-discretionary bonuses and that it failed to make, keep and preserve accurate records of work performed.

Constance Eyman, Ashtabula County Nursing Home administrator, could not be reached for comment. Although the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners are not listed as a defendant on the lawsuit, they are aware of the pending litigation.

“We were just recently made aware of a lawsuit being filed and are reviewing it at this time,” Commissioner Casey Kozlowski said.

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