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Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore

Key Issues for Nurses


Nurses are in high demand all over the nation right now and serve many important functions in the health care world. They also have widely varying compensation schemes. Unfortunately, many nurses are not receiving the pay they should because they are wrongfully being denied overtime premium pay.

The law has narrow exemptions that permit employers to avoid paying overtime to certain employees. These exemptions do not apply to all nurses.

Connecticut Wage and Hour Lawyer for Nurses

If you are a nurse in Connecticut who is not being paid overtime, our Connecticut wage and hour attorney can help you recover the back payments you may deserve. At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, we represent nurses who have been denied the time and a half they deserve. If you are a nurse not making overtime, carefully review your job description. Many nurses, including licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and employees at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, are wrongfully denied compensation due to misclassification.

You may be able to recover back pay. Fill out our online form so that we can review the details of your case. Based in Hartford, we represent clients throughout the state, including Milford, Waterbury, Fairfield, New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford, Danbury, and Greenwich.

Types of Nurses

There are many different types of nurses, who have different job descriptions. The distinctions between these jobs make a difference, under Connecticut law, as to whether the particular nurse is “exempt” or “nonexempt,” which we will explain further down.

Under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 20-87a, a registered nurse:

  • Diagnoses responses to potential health problems;

  • Provides supportive and restorative care;

  • Counsels and teaches health;

  • Finds and refers cases;

  • Collaborates in implementing and executive a medical regimen;

  • Acts under the direction of a licensed physician, dentist or advanced practice nurse.

Under the same law, a licensed practical nurse performs selected tasks described above under the supervision of a registered nurse or advanced practice nurse.

RNs and LPNs have different procedures, but both must pass an exam and be approved by the Board of Examiners for Nursing under the Connecticut Department of Public Health. They must also regularly take steps to maintain their status.

Other nurse designations include a certified nurse aide (CNA). CNAs must also take an approved course and be approved by the DPH.

Exemptions Misapplied to Nurses

Some workers fall under certain exemptions to the law that generally requires employers to pay employees time and a half for all hours worked beyond 40 in a week.  The exemption most commonly applied to nurses is the “learned professional” exemption.  A person is considered a learned professional if he or she:

  • Is paid, on a salary basis, at least $475 per week;

  • Has primary work duties that require advanced knowledge and the use of discretion and judgment;

  • The advanced knowledge is:
    • In a field of science and learning; and
    • Obtained through long courses of instruction.

Some nurses, particularly RNs, do fit this exemption. These nurses may be paid on a salary basis, and not receive overtime.

Other nurses, however, do not fit the learned professional exemption. The exemption requires discretion and judgment be used. While LPNs and CNAs typically have some training, they work on tasks assigned to them and are not afforded the use of discretion and independent judgment. This means they must be paid for the hours they work, and receive time and a half for any hours over 40 worked per week.

Case Managers and Nurses

Some medical employers may argue that case managers are exempt and deny these employees overtime pay. Generally, the professional exemption to the FLSA applies to RNs but not LPNs because the higher position of RN requires more education and satisfies the professional exemption definition.

To meet this exemption, a job must require “knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.”  The actual job of a case manager must meet this requirement of learning for that employee to be exempt.

In Cook v. Carestar, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131956, as a case from Ohio, the court refused to dismiss the case holding that “Case managers are not, however, working as nurses … in the traditional sense.”  The question became whether nursing training was “functionally required to perform a case manager’s primary duties…”  Because the plaintiff’s produced evidence that the job could have been done without the RN training and instead performed based solely on case manager training received from the employer, the judge allowed the case to go to trial.

If you are a nurse / case manager, you are not automatically exempt from overtime just because you are an RN.  You are entitled to overtime unless your job functionally requires the advanced knowledge that you gained from becoming an RN.

Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore | Employment Attorney for Nurses in Connecticut

If you have been wrongly classified as exempt, you may be able to recover back pay and other damages. At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, we represent nurses on employment matters in Connecticut. Please fill out our online form so that we can review the details of your case.