Pennsylvania Record

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Contractor wins back pay claim of more than $8,000

Federal Court

By Takesha Thomas | Jul 9, 2019


PHILADELPHIA – A U.S. District Court has granted a contracted employee for Best Behavioral Healthcare more than $8,100 in back pay. 

On June 4, Judge Gene E.K. Pratter for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted Ramon Jimenez's motion for summary judgment after the psychotherapist sued Best Behavioral Healthcare (BBH) for back pay he claimed he was entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Pratter granted him $8,170.75. But Pratter denied a request for summary judgment based on the Pennsylvania Wage Payment Collection Law. 

"Looking to the economic realities, the court concludes that Mr. Jimenez was effectively an employee and is entitled to $8,170.75 in back pay," Pratter wrote.

Attorneys for Jimenez had argued that he worked on average 46 hours a week for 23 work weeks while employed between October 2016 and April 2017. Based on those numbers, Jimenez claimed that he worked a total of 920 regular hours and 138 overtime hours. "Using a minimum wage of $7.25 for regular hours and time-and-a-half overtime hourly wage of $10.875, Jimenez argues he is entitled to $8,170.75," the suit says. 

Attorneys for BBH submitted their own motion for summary judgement, arguing Jimenez was not entitled to full-time employee benefits because he was a contracted employee. Additionally, Jimenez was not required to clock in hours worked, therefore was not entitled to the estimated back pay amount because there was no way to determine the exact number of hours he worked. 

However, attorneys for Jimenez claim that since he signed documentation within the employee manual that Jimenez was entitled to those same benefits. 

"In short, the defendants barely make any effort to rebut Mr. Jimenez's testimony about the amount of time he worked while employed by BBH. They certainly have met no burden," Pratter wrote.

According to court papers, BBH argued that many of the provisions of the employee manual did not apply to independent contractors. Pratter wrote, however, that "the employee manual, by its own terms, states that "[u]nless otherwise specified, the benefits described in this manual apply only to full-time employees."  

As part of Jimenez's employment agreement, he signed a service agreement that allowed for BBH to pay for or reimburse employees for various expenses, "including cleaning supplies, credit card processing, office supplies, and office space," court documents state. 

Jimenez was terminated for allegedly failing to keep detailed notes with patient visits.

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