Technical writers who worked at Verona-based medical software maker Epic Systems are owed overtime pay that was not given to them, according to federal lawsuits filed this week against the company.
The two nearly identical lawsuits, along with motions to certify them as class action lawsuits, were filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Madison.
The lawsuits come on the heels of a $5.4 million settlement of a similar federal lawsuit filed on behalf of current and former quality assurance workers at Epic who were not paid overtime wages.
That settlement was reached in October and awaits final approval by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb at a hearing set for March 20.
In the settlement, Epic did not admit to any wrongdoing.
Just under 1,000 current and former quality assurance workers were notified about that lawsuit. James Jansen, one of the lawyers in the cases involving the technical writers, said he does not know how many current and former workers could be represented in the new lawsuits.
Like the quality assurance lawsuit, the lawsuits filed on behalf of technical writers allege that they were paid a fixed salary regardless of the number of hours they worked, because Epic classified them as being exempt from overtime wages.
Labor laws allow several exemptions from overtime pay for such things as managerial or computer work, but the lawsuit states that technical writers do not fit any of those categories. Technical writers, the lawsuit states, prepare documents such as release notes, setup and support guides, implementation handbooks, testing tool kits and validation documents using a content management system and Epic’s style guide.
The job does not require any advanced knowledge or computer expertise, the lawsuit states.
Jansen said that although both lawsuits involve technical writers who were not paid overtime, separate actions were filed because one group of technical writers who are potential members of the class were working at Epic as of April 2, when the company alerted workers by email of an agreement to arbitrate wage claims.
The agreement stated, “I understand that if I continue to work at Epic, I will be deemed to have accepted this agreement,” according to the lawsuit.
A separate lawsuit was filed on behalf of those who by April 2 no longer worked at Epic and could not have received that notification, Jansen said. The lawsuits seek judgments for unpaid back wages, along with damages and attorney fees.
Epic did not have an immediate comment on the lawsuits.
According to Forbes, Epic had revenue of $1.7 billion in 2013. Judy Faulkner, who founded the company in 1979, has a net worth of about $2.7 billion and was ranked number 248 on Forbes’ 2014 list of the 400 richest Americans.