Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
I am a PDPP physician and supervise contract physicians and PAs, all in primary care, for the Air Force. We are continually told by program managers that, because we are professionals, we are expected to work more than 40 hours per week. We get a lunch break less than ten times per month, average 50-55 hours per week and are told we are not eligible for overtime or comp time. Is there any guidance as to how many hours professionals are expected to work and any protection for months on end of 50+ hour weeks? All were recruited with a 7:30am – 4:30pm duty day expectation.
All have been professional about taking care of business, but with downsizing, this can only get worse.
Talk to the lawyers at the Department of Justice who filed a class action lawsuit on this point a few years ago and lost. Unless you are ordered in writing to work more than 40 hours a week, you are not entitled to overtime. As a caring professional it is difficult to demand the written order to work extra time and most professionals simply do what is expected of them. And yes, with downsizing it will only get worse.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.
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