My posts are delayed this morning because I am arguing with the payroll woman at my job.

The hospital where I work has a lot of training requirements. We are assigned mandatory training every month. Some of it is in the form of traditional, in-person classes, some of it is online training, and some of it is simulation training that must be done at the hospital. We are not given time to do this while we are on our regular shift, because that time is taken up providing patient care. For the month of May, that comes to about

If we clock in (using a time clock on site, or if we clock in virtually by signing in online) to do this training at a date and time that is outside of our scheduled shift, it has to be approved. I just got a call from work and was told that some of my training hours were not approved, and I would not be getting paid for them.

The Department of Labor says that an employer doesn’t have to pay you for training time if that training meets four criteria:

  • it is outside normal hours
  • it is voluntary
  • it is not job related, and
  • no other work is concurrently performed.

We have a problem. Actually, WE don’t have a problem, my employer does. When an employer tells you that completing training is mandatory, they don’t have the option of telling you that the hours need to be approved. They have to pay you, it’s the law. Here is a handy guide for employers that explains it:

As we mentioned earlier, the FLSA requires that employees be paid at least one and a half times the regular wage rate for all hours worked over 40 in one workweek. When calculating the number of hours an employee works, you’ll need to include all compensable time, which includes unauthorized work time if you know or have reason to know about it. Essentially, if the employee works over 40 hours a week in any way, you’re liable for compensating them for it.

So, even if you have a policy in your employee handbook that states overtime must be approved by a manager in advance, if an employee works it anyway – in violation of the policy – you still must pay them. That’s because the FLSA considers “work not requested but suffered or permitted” to be work time. The reason doesn’t matter; if you know or have reason to believe the employee is continuing to work, that time is working time.

In this case, they made the training mandatory, but leave it to the employee to schedule and complete the training on their own time. The employee has to clock in and out, then has to list the hours, date, and time on a spreadsheet in the company computer system so training can verify that it was legitimate. Then after the fact, the training department “validates” the hours so that payroll can approve it. In many cases, the training people will “deny” the hours, and the employee just doesn’t get paid for completing the training.

That isn’t what the law says. I don’t have to get overtime approved if my employer knows that I am working it. They have to pay me. Period. Now they are free to fire me if I am working unauthorized overtime, but it still has to be paid.

Now many of you will say “Well, just don’t do the training, then.” If you don’t complete the training for a given month, you get removed from the schedule and are not permitted to come to work until you complete that training. That is part of how they make it mandatory. Here is an example of a required training notice, directly from an email that I received this morning:

This is a notice to help remind you that your NIH Stroke Scale Certification is due to expire in approximately 90 days. It is your responsibility to renew and provide the appropriate documentation to Human Resources in order to continue to work after 08/17/2024. In accordance with your facility’s policy, if you do not renew prior to the expiration date you may be subject to suspension and possible termination.

While we are on that topic, some of the training that they make us attend is held at another location/hospital. This requires drives that are up to an hour long to get to the other location. The law says that they have to pay you for the time spend driving to the other location. This is what the DOL has to say about that:

An employee who regularly works at a fixed location in one city is given a special one day assignment in another city and returns home the same day. The time spent in traveling to and returning from the other city is work time, except that the employer may deduct/not count that time the employee would normally spend commuting to the regular work site.

Since I have been working there, I have been told to go to another hospital for training on 12 different occasions. The total travel time for those 12 occasions is about 35 hours, and I can prove it because I keep records. It normally takes me 40 minutes round trip to get to and from work at my normal hospital, so that means that they owe me 28 hours of pay for travel time for those 12 days. That means they owe me money that is roughly equivalent to a week’s pay. So far.

I am going to see the ED department head about this the next time I am there for work. If they aren’t willing to pay me for those hours, my next step will be filing a complaint with the Florida Department of Labor’s wage and hour division. As soon as I file the complaint, they can’t fire me for working the overtime, because it then becomes unlawful retaliation.

As long as I am filing the complaint for the declined hours, I may as well include all of the travel time to the other hospitals while we are at it. If my complaint is investigated by DOL and shown to be true, the penalties can be expensive:

If you don’t pay overtime when it’s due, you have to pay back wages for the time worked. If you neglect to pay overtime properly and a complaint is filed with the DOL, you’ll pay damages, penalties, and a fine. For employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the overtime requirements, you could face a civil monetary penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation.

Now consider that there are 250 nurses who work in just the emergency department in just the one hospital where I work, with each one of those nurses being tasked with the same training requirements that I have. How many violations do you think there are? Two thousand? More? Those fines get expensive.

Categories: Me


It's just Boris · May 20, 2024 at 8:41 am

Sounds like either a case of penny-wise but pound-foolish if a deliberate decision was made to do this; or extensive lack of oversight and training on the part of the department(s) in question.

Either way, this could become expensive for the hospital to remedy.

Noway2 · May 20, 2024 at 8:42 am

“How many violations do you think there are? Two thousand? More? Those fines get expensive.”
I would bet that the fines would be expensive enough to be an order of magnitude more than just paying the overtime pay that the staff is due.

jimmyPx · May 20, 2024 at 9:39 am

Some bean counting MBA management moron is behind this GUARANTEED.
Sounds like a really nice lawsuit that could be won easy peasy.
If they screw you, I’d be talking to a lawyer specializing in employment issues.

    WallPhone · May 20, 2024 at 12:37 pm

    Arizona has a treble damages clause for illegally withheld pay. Sent my first demand letter because my bosses’ boss was withholding a bonus check for company-wide metrics until I got some minor unrelated metric into the green range.

    The day before I was to file suit, some person I’d never seen before or since silently dropped an envelope at my desk. Two weeks later, big boss was gone.

Univ of Saigon 68 · May 20, 2024 at 11:08 am

Let us know what happens.

250 nurses work in the emergency department? Big place.

Big Ruckus D · May 20, 2024 at 2:16 pm

Man, these skin flint sonsabitches. I know every company wants to contain payroll costs, but that they do this and think they can get away with it – in direct contravention of law – no less, is just outrageous. I guess the real question is whether the hospital has enough juice to get the state labor dept to look the other way, and force you to file a suit (and then hope the court isn’t compromised l, and you get awarded what you are due).

Given the generally decontented state of US “justice”, I’d not be making bets on the outcome, shit has become so crooked and arbitrary now. Although if you prevail, it’ll be a nice little boost to your income when thr check for the unpaid hours finally comes through. If you don’t get the pay owed in full, I’ll be wanting to hear what legal justification they cook up for such a decision.

oldvet50 · May 20, 2024 at 2:39 pm

I don’t know what type of training you are required to complete, but my wife was a CNA and there was a continuing education requirement that had to be completed every two years in order for her to renew her license. That training was never paid by her employers. If her license expired, she was out of work.

GrumpyOldGuy · May 20, 2024 at 2:46 pm

I knew someone that worked in contracting for the fed government. Hired a lot of service contractors. If the DOL got involved because something the contractor did, even the gov people hated i lol, those DOL guys are like pit bulls. Good luck.

IcyReaper · May 20, 2024 at 4:28 pm

Sounds like the excuses used by companies who are getting sued now for damages caused by the Covid not a vax shots. Oh they weren’t really mandatory it was your choice!!!!!!

Dirty Dingus McGee · May 20, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Even if you DO prevail, you will be blacklisted. Thats what sucks about being forced to stand up for yourself for what is right. I went down a similar road some 40 years ago. Mandatory training on a Saturday, 40 miles from the facility location, uncompensated. Laws were more lax back then so not much legally could be done.

However. 16 of the folks, out of 25, left the company within 3 months putting them in a big hole. Word had also traveled about how folks were treated and they had a hard time finding decent replacements.

    Big Ruckus D · May 20, 2024 at 9:03 pm

    This is a very salient point. If you have to force the issue – irrespective of the fact you are legally correct – you will henceforth be hated by the administration of the hospital, for embarrassing them and forcing their hand. This not only risks your current employment, but if you are let go (after some time has elapsed, and for any nitpick reasons they can document to mask it being a retaliatory action) then you can be assured of not getting any favorable reference, and to be blackballed in your line of work, since they effectively have you by the short and curlies.

    How many hospitals are there for you to apply to where you can you can ply your trade, and how far will you have to travel to find one that somehow doesn’t know your reputation for for being “that guy” in advance? Because these underhanded shits will talk, and word will get around. If that happens, the onus is on you to try and prove you’re being frozen out, and good luck with that. And again, even though you may be 100% in the right, they hold the leverage over your ongoing employment. It’s not as though you can be a self employed nurse, as is possible with many trades. You have to do it in a hospital setting, and if you’ve been “burned” across that industry, at least within your AO, then you’re SOL.

    Sometimes being right is a lose-lose proposition. You can win on principal, but still have an outcome as bad as – or worse than – not taking up the battle to begin with. I perceive this to potentially be just such a case. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t pursue the claim. But don’t underestimate the possibility of retribution, nor the inventive ways in which they can (and will) fuck you.

      Univ of Saigon 68 · May 21, 2024 at 5:07 am

      What you’re saying, Ruckus, – If they can’t get you for what they want to get you on, they’ll get you for improperly stapling paperwork.

      Divemedic · May 21, 2024 at 6:44 am

      That is one of the best things about being a nurse. There is such a huge shortage that there will always be a job for a qualified nurse.

jojoca · May 21, 2024 at 11:31 pm

i cant remember all the details but i remember a few years ago somewhere near me there was a court case that found in favor of the employees that required the chicken plant to start paying employees for the time it took them to “suit up” in the required PPE before starting their shift. TRAINING should be a slam dunk

More Pay BS – Area Ocho · May 24, 2024 at 9:40 am

[…] Keeping up with my current problems at work, with them requiring us to perform training on our own time but not wanting to pay us. They are saying that any training hours claimed in excess of four hours in any two week pay period will not be approved. At the same time, we are REQUIRED to complete this training, or we will be taken off of the schedule and not permitted to work. […]

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