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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [12/08/2009]
Contact Name: Rich Kulczewski
Phone Number: (303) 844-1302
Release Number: 09-1461-KAN

US Labor Department recovers more than $1.7 million in back wages for about 4,000 health care workers of SSM Health Care in St. Louis, Mo.

Wage and Hour Divisionís investigation covered 7 health care facilities

ST. LOUIS — SSM Health Care, a medical corporation comprised of seven health care centers and hospitals in the St. Louis area, has paid more than $1.7 million in back wages following a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.

Wage and Hour Division investigators found that the medical corporation violated the FLSA's overtime provisions by failing to pay its nursing staff time and one-half their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The employees were not paid when they were required to work during some meal periods. The company's timekeeping system automatically deducted time for meal periods whether the employees were fully relieved of their duties or not. The division found $1,738,133 in back wages due 4,007 employees.

"The welfare of our workforce depends on ensuring that workers receive all the wages they have earned, and the Labor Department is committed to that end," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

The Wage and Hour Division's St. Louis District Office conducted the investigation, which covered the following SSM Health Care locations: St. Joseph Hospital West, St. Mary's Health Center, Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center and SSM Rehab Executive Offices, all in St. Louis; St. Joseph Health Center in St. Charles, Mo.; DePaul Health Center in Bridgeton, Mo.; and (now closed) St. Joseph Hospital of Kirkwood, Mo.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and receive overtime at one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA also requires that an employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. The employee is not relieved if he/she is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating and therefore should be compensated for time spent working.

For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the agency's district office in St. Louis at 314-539-2706. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.