On May 24, 2018, NTEU settled a national grievance with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concerning the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) status of GS-101 Program Specialists in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The FLSA is the federal overtime statute. NTEU’s grievance was filed on July 14, 2017, and alleged that HHS improperly classified these employees as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime protections.
NTEU has previously filed, and successfully resolved, overtime grievances on behalf of hundreds of ACF Program Specialists. Some Program Specialist positions, however, such as Child Care Program Specialists, Youth Services Program Specialists and others, were not covered by NTEU’s earlier grievances. The July 14, 2017 grievance was filed to make sure that all Program Specialists are properly classified as protected by the FLSA.
Under the settlement, all GS-101 Program Specialists at the GS-13 level and below who are not already covered by other NTEU settlements have been re-classified as “nonexempt” from, or covered by, the FLSA. This means that, going forward, they are entitled to a choice between compensatory time off or overtime pay at time-and-a-half, when their supervisor asks them to work extra overtime hours.
In addition, pursuant to the parties’ settlement, HHS has been calculating how much back pay these employees are owed for improperly compensated overtime that they worked going back to July 14, 2015 up until the date they were reclassified. These calculations are based on overtime hours, compensatory time, and compensatory time for travel that these employees have earned. Employees who are owed some back pay will receive a matching amount of 100% liquidated damages. These terms mirror those in the earlier settlements for other Program Specialists.
HHS has finished preparing the statements and will soon send them to every former and current employee covered by the settlement with the agency’s calculations of how much back pay and liquidated damages each employee is owed. HHS will be sending statements to current employees via e-mail and to former employees via regular U.S. mail.
Employees who disagree with HHS’s calculations as reflected on the statement may file a claim within 30 days of receiving the statement. The statements that HHS is sending to employees explain the process for filing a claim. Please read these instructions carefully and be mindful of the 30-day deadline. Employees who agree with the agency’s calculations of how much back pay they are owed should sign and return the release that HHS is providing. If the statement indicates that an employee is not owed anything, and the employee does not dispute that, the employee does not need to do anything. Employees whose statements indicate that they are owed something should either sign the release or complete a claim form, but not both.
This grievance is part of NTEU’s ongoing efforts to make sure that hard working HHS and FDA employees receive proper overtime compensation under the FLSA. Contact your chapter president if you have questions about this grievance.