Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Southwick v. Health Affiliates Maine, LLC

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

September 30, 2019

KOLBY SOUTHWICK Plaintiff
v.
HEALTH AFFILIATES MAINE, LLC Defendant

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

          A. M. HORTON, JUSTICE.

         In this case, Plaintiff Kolby Southwick (Southwick) claims that her former employer, Defendant Health Affiliates Maine, LLC (HAM), has violated Maine's wage payment statutes by failing to pay her for all of her work as a HAM case manager.

         Southwick has tiled a Motion for Clans Certification, proposing that the court designate her as class representative for three certified classes of current and former HAM case managers, described as follows:

Travel Time Class: All current and former employees of Health Affiliates Maine that worked as case managers and were not paid for all travel time
Paperwork Class: All current and former employees of Health Affiliates Maine LLC that worked as case managers and were not paid for all time completing required admin and/or client paperwork
Kickback Class: All current and former employees of Health Affiliates Maine LLC that worked as case managers and were required to use their personal vehicles for work and weren't properly reimbursed.

         Plaintiffs [Proposed[] Order Granting Plaintiffs Motion for Class Certification.

         HAM opposes the Motion for Class Certification on multiple grounds, including the assertion that it has paid Southwick and all other HAM case managers in compliance with Maine's wage payment laws.

         Background

         According to the affidavit of its executive director, Andrea Krebs, HAM is a mental health and substance abuse agency that provides outpatient therapy, substance abuse counseling and case management services throughout Maine to recipients of MaineCare benefits (MaineCare being the State of Maine's Medicaid program). Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion for Class Certification of Defendant Health Affiliates of Maine, LLC, Ex. 2, Affidavit of Andrea Krebs at ¶2-3 [Krebs Aff.].

         The MaineCare program compensates HAM for each hour of case management services rendered to the client. Krebs Aff. ¶9. The compensation is measured in quarter-hour increments.

         To enable a case manager's service to a client to be billable to MaineCare, the service obviously has to be rendered, meaning that the case manager has to travel to the client's location. Also, the hour of service to the client has to be documented in order for the service to be billable to MaineCare. Thus, in order for HAM to be able to bill an hour of service to MaineCare, a case manager has to spend travel time and paperwork time, in addition to the time spent rendering the billable hour of service, in order for HAM to be able to bill the service to MaineCare.

         However, MaineCare does not compensate HAM for a case manager's time spent traveling to or from the client appointment. Krebs Aff. ¶11. MaineCare does not compensate HAM for the case manager's time spent on the paperwork associated with documenting a client service so it can be billed to MaineCare.

         HAM bases its compensation system for its case managers on MaineCare's compensation system for HAM. Krebs Aff, ¶ 12. HAM pays (and has paid) its case managers between $29 and $35 for each "Client Billable Hour." In addition, HAM pays a travel stipend of between $2.00 and $6.00 for each Client Billable Hour "depending on where the Case manager typically travels to meet with clients and how many Client Billable Hours are paid that week." Id. at 2.

         HAM pays case managers a separate lower rate per hour of mandatory training and supervision.

         HAM hired Kolby Southwick as a per diem case manager in November 2015. At the time she was hired, Southwick was provided with a one-page form setting forth the terms of her compensation "per client billable hour" and the requirements for generating a client billable hour, and signed it to signify her agreement with its terms. See Plaintiff s Brief in Support of Her Motion for Class Certification, Ex. 5 ("Client Billable Hour Requirements", signed by Plaintiff 11/5/15).

         In pertinent part, the Client Billable Hour Requirements form signed by Plaintiff at the time she was hired reads:

As a per diem employee, you are being paid $29 per client billable hour up to 40 hours per week ($35 per client billable hour for specialty populations). In addition, you will be paid $2 per billable hours [sic ] for mileage expenses incurred. You will also be paid $15 per hour for mandatory supervision, administrative meetings and trainings.

Id.

         In late 2016, Southwick raised the concern that she and the other case managers were not being paid for the travel time required in order to render service to the client or for the "paperwork time" associated with documenting the service so it could be billed to MaineCare. HAM did not agree with her concern, based on its definition of "client billable hour" as including travel time and paperwork time.

         In January 2017, Southwick brought her concern to the Maine Department of Labor, which investigated. After the Department of Labor became involved, HAM started requiring its case managers to keep track of their actual hours.

         Around the same time, in March 2017, HAM revised its written case manager compensation policy to be more specific about what time is covered by the $29/35 payment per client billable hour. However, HAM did not change the policy itself-the $29/35 payment was still meant to cover all work associated with a client billable hour, including travel time and paperwork time. The revised policy reads in pertinent part:

Billable Hours
We pay Case Managers $29.00 per hour billed to MaineCare ("Client Billable Hour") or $35.00 per Client Billable Hour if the client meets the Cultural program requirements. The rate we pay per Client Billable Hour is set at a level to reflect the work that goes into each Client Billable Hour. Pay for Client Billable Hours covers all hours spent in support of those hours, including time spent with the client (including face to face and collateral time), travel between client locations, completing the required paperwork, or any other work required in support of Client Billable Hours, whether or not such time is billable to MaineCare.
Health Affiliates Maine Case Manager Compensation Page 1 of 2 3/2017, attached as Exhibit B to Plaintiffs Motion for Class Certification

         Despite that clarification, Southwick maintains that HAM's compensation policy still violates Maine law because it fails to compensate case managers for their travel time and paperwork time.

         Southwick contends that the payment represents the hourly rate for a case manager's time spent rendering the billable service to the client, and does not cover travel time or paperwork time. She therefore contends that she (and the members of the proposed classes) are due additional compensation for the travel time and paperwork time. She also challenges the $2 compensation paid per client billable hour as inadequate and unlawful, and characterizes it as, in effect, as requiring case managers to "kickback" to HAM a portion of their compensation.

         HAM's position is that, because the $29/35 payment per client billable hour covers all of the work needed to enable HAM to bill an hour of client service to MaineCare, its compensation policy is, in substance, a piecework or flat rate compensation arrangement that pays the case manager for completing a task or unit of production.

         HAM cites to federal regulations allowing an employer to compensate an employee on a "piecework" basis, as long as the employee agrees to be paid based on piecework rather than by the hour, and also as long as the piecework compensation equates to at least the applicable minimum wage for all hours actually worked. See Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion for Class Certification of Defendant Health Affiliates of Maine at 10-12, citing 29 C.F.R. § 778.318(c) ("[I] it is permissible for the parties to agree that the pay the employees will earn at piece rates is intended to compensate them for all hours worked, the productive as well as the nonproductive hours.")

         Southwick contends that the federal authority on which HAM relies is inapplicable. She also contends that whether she and other case managers were paid at least the equivalent of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.