IHS FLSA Settlement Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) March 2016
Glossary of Key Terms
Affiant - one who submitted information regarding uncompensated overtour work, typically in affidavit format, to the Snider Law Firm and/or Union to assist with this FLSA case
Awards - money which can be paid to BUEs from this settlement
Back Pay – as used herein, back pay refers to overtour work for which compensation was not properly provided
BUE - bargaining unit employee – one who currently works or previously worked at IHS while covered by the Union’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) during their employment
CAIG - Class Action Implementation Group - the company who is assisting the Union in disbursing the funds under the FLSA settlement
Claimant - one who submits a claim for uncompensated overtour work through the website – liunaihsclaims.com – to determine eligibility for a payment from the settlement
Exempt - one who is not covered by the FLSA
FLSA - Fair Labor Standards Act, the law that governs overtime and comp time, upon which the Union’s grievance and eventual settlement was based
Grievance - something the Union can file against IHS to resolve a dispute under the law or the CBA. This FLSA case was a grievance alleging IHS had not properly paid overtime compensation
Member - one who joins the Union and pays dues and enjoys the member benefits of belonging to the Union, including discounts and access to dental and AD&D coverage
Non Exempt - one who is covered by the FLSA
SPOT awards – “Suffer or Permit Overtime” – SPOT damages cover time worked for which no compensation was provided by IHS, such as coming in early, working during lunch, etc.
What happened regarding the FLSA case?
In 2008, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) and its Indian Health Service National Council, along with two other unions - NFFE and AFGE – learned that IHS was not properly compensating employees for overtime in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Unions filed Grievances to ensure that the IHS employees were paid what they are owed. Those Grievances were diligently pursued for seven years and an $80 million Settlement Agreement was reached between the Unions and IHS in April 2015.
Most of that $80 million will go to FLSA back pay during the Grievance timeframe (approximately mid-2006 to mid-2015). $60 million dollars will be used exclusively for compensation to eligible and affected employees, with $55 million of that amount attributed to LIUNA BUEs.
Does this settlement have any negative impact on patient care?
This settlement has absolutely no negative impact on patient care! IHS committed to that in its agreement with the Unions to settle the matter. The settlement does not affect the current patient care budget and does not affect current patient care appropriations.
If anything, the settlement should have a positive effect, as those employees who were “shortchanged” in years past are now going to be provided with this long overdue compensation. IHS is funding the settlement utilizing both 1) prior year funding that had or would otherwise expire and not be used at all and 2) funds being collected for services performed in past years which are allocated to pay for past wages earned and not paid in those past years. No funds that would have been used for patient care are being used to fund this settlement.
The final outcome is that IHS is paying now what it should have paid before, and affected eligible employees will now receive compensation towards what they should have already been paid.
Who is eligible to be considered for a payment from the Settlement?
If you were a) in the LIUNA bargaining unit b) while working at IHS at any time point during the Grievance timeframe and c) were covered by the FLSA at that time, then you are eligible for consideration for a payment from the settlement. Note that there is a nine month minimum threshold for eligibility – in other words, you MUST be eligible for at least nine months of time to be eligible for payment consideration.
Did you have to be in the bargaining unit or work at IHS the entire Grievance timeframe?
No. If you were in the LIUNA bargaining unit and worked there at any time point during that window, then you are eligible to be considered for a payment from the Settlement. That window spans from approximately mid-2006 to mid-2015. Note that there is a nine month minimum threshold for eligibility – in other words, you MUST be eligible for at least nine months of time to be eligible for payment consideration.
Do you have to be a current IHS employee?
No. If you were in the LIUNA bargaining unit and were covered by the FLSA and worked there at any time point during that window, then you are eligible to be considered for a payment from the Settlement. Note that there is a nine month minimum threshold for eligibility – in other words, you MUST be eligible for at least nine months of time to be eligible for payment consideration, but those nine months do not have to have occurred recently.
Are all IHS employees eligible to be considered for payment from the Settlement?
The settlement was for unpaid and improperly paid overtime pursuant to the FLSA. Not all employees are/were part of a LIUNA bargaining unit. Nor were all employees covered by the FLSA. Those who were never part of the bargaining unit and those who were never covered by the FLSA (Exempt) during the Grievance timeframe would not be eligible for consideration to receive any payment for FLSA back pay from the Settlement.
How can I tell if I was covered by the FLSA?
You can look at box 35 on your SF50s. That box is marked ‘FLSA.’ ‘N’ means ‘nonexempt’ and that you are covered by the FLSA. ‘E’ means ‘exempt’ and that you are not covered by the FLSA. Note that your SF50 is not the final indicator, as many employees were ‘converted’ to ‘FLSA nonexempt’ retroactively as a result of the Union’s hard work in pursuing this case. That is amongst the data being obtained from IHS and processed by your Union. Additionally, note that some employees may currently be FLSA ‘exempt,’ but were in FLSA covered positions in the past during the Grievance timeframe.
When will those eligible and entitled be paid?
Nobody can be paid until eligibility and entitlement is determined, the consideration and claims process occurs and all calculations incorporating the completed claims process data are performed. The Union had to wait for IHS to gather and provide almost ten years’ worth of detailed data for thousands of individuals. That data needed to then be processed. That has since occurred, the claims process will begin on March 30, 2016 - with details to be provided to those eligible.
When and how will eligible employees be contacted?
When the payment qualifications and claims process begins on March 30, 2016, the implementation/distribution company, Class Action Implementation Group (CAIG), will call, mail and/or email those eligible. The Union will also make an announcement, which will include the appropriate contact information for those employees who were not already contacted by the implementation/distribution company.
no longer work for IHS/am retiring shortly. How will I be contacted?
CAIG, the implementation/distribution company, will contact you at your last known address on file with IHS. They will also be setting up a process for you and others to provide contact information
What compensation will be paid out to those eligible and entitled?
There are two general categories of damages covered by the settlement. The first is payroll damages and covers capped overtime payments and forced compensatory time. This is for damages for time worked for which compensation was provided by IHS, but either in too low of an amount or in the wrong form. Payroll damages can be calculated based on data provided to the Union by either IHS or the law firm. Your participation is not needed to determine any entitlement to payroll damages.
The second is suffer or permit overtime, also known as SPOT. SPOT damages cover time worked for which no compensation at all was provided by IHS - like coming in early, working during lunch and staying late – amongst other things. This is, far and away, what the majority of the settlement is attributed to and where the bulk of the payments to those entitled will be made.
Unless you receive a notice from CAIG that you are an affiant, participation in the claims process will be the only way to request a payment for SPOT from the settlement. Those eligible will have an opportunity to answer a short series of questions to establish entitlement. The claims process will begin March 30, 2016.
Again, if you wish to make any claim for uncompensated overtime (SPOT), you MUST participate in the claims process unless you have been notified in writing by CAIG that you previously provided an affidavit which is being relied upon.
If you are eligible to submit a SPOT claim, you must select the approximate amount of hours when you worked uncompensated overtime while you were a bargaining unit employee in an eligible position. By signing the completed form you are confirming that the information you have provided is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Providing false information may be subject to the penalties of perjury.
I previously provided an affidavit to the law firm. What else do I need to do?
Your cooperation in having previously provided this critical information is much appreciated. That data will be processed as described above. You will be contacted when the payment claims process begins, starting March 30, 2016.
I would like to provide the law firm with information about overtime I have worked. Is it too late?
The law firm is no longer collecting information from employees. All eligible employees will be contacted in conjunction with the claims process. If you feel you are qualified, you may make a claim on the claims website beginning on March 30th.
What documentation do I need to provide at this time?
No documentation needs to be provided at this time. During the claims process you will be advised if anything further is needed.
Does this settlement cover EEO/hazardous duty pay/FMLA/grade parity/etc?
No, it does not. This is an FLSA Overtime settlement.
Can you tell me now if I am eligible and/or how much I may receive?
Individual determinations cannot be made until the necessary information is obtained through the consideration and claims process. The claims process will begin March 30, 2016, and those who are deemed eligible will be contacted by the CAIG disbursement company.
Where will future contact come from and updates be available?
Class Action Implementation Group (CAIG) is the company selected and approved by LIUNA to handle the implementation and distribution of settlement funds. CAIG has handled many other similar cases nationwide and has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to current and past federal government employees from settlements like this one. Once the claims process begins on March 30, 2016, CAIG will notify all those IHS employees believed to be eligible for claims. These CAIG notifications may come in the form of emails, phone calls, and/or letters. At that time, current and past employees will also be able to speak with CAIG representatives via phone. Note that until those notifications are sent out, CAIG will not be able to provide any additional information beyond that contained on the CAIG website.
For general information updates and FAQ updates, we suggest employees visit WWW.LIUNAIHSCLAIMS.ORG