Berkshire Health Systems is facing a potential class action lawsuit, with one licensed practical nurse claiming BHS engaged in systematic wage theft.

According to The Berkshire Eagle, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, filed by an LPN from Pittsfield, claims the counties largest employer deducted wages for meal breaks she and others weren't able to take. Shayla Clark seeks to be the lead plaintiff in a proposed class action lawsuit again the health care giant. The suit needs to be approved as class action, by the District Court in Springfield.  If it is, the health systems could be forced to notify current and former LPNs that they are eligible to join the litigation.

Benjamin Steffans and his co-counsel, Springfield attorney Jeffrey S. Morneau, are representing Clark in the suit. They claim BHS' use of a "Meal Break Deduction Policy" led the business to shortchange employees. The lawsuit claims BHS knew, or should have known that Clark and others perform work during the meal and other unpaid breaks, but still do not compensate them for this time. Work done during such breaks, the suit says, happened in the view of managers at the defendant's work locations.

Berkshire Health Systems denies Clark's claims, saying in a recent court filing and in an attorney's interview Thursday that it never made LPNs work without compensation.  An attorney for BHS, Lucy Prashker said that LPNs who are paid on an hourly basis are able to take 30-minute meal breaks when they work shifts of more than six hours.

It is our policy and practice to pay all of our employees for all time worked....That policy applies to the hospital and to all other BHS subsidiaries....We work very hard to make sure all those things happen

Lucy Prashker, Attorney for BHS

 

Clark's claims were filed in December of 2017, and in a March 26th response, Prashker denied dozens of accusations in Clark's lawsuit, including the central claim of wage theft, denying any knowledge that Clark ever worked during a scheduled meal break for which she was not paid by Berkshire Medical Center.

Lawyers for Clark claim more than 100 LPNs could be affected by this case. If successful, Clark and others who join the proposed class action could be compensated not only past wages going back as far as six years, but interest and damages

A hearing in the case is scheduled May 16 in Springfield.