Another class-action lawsuit brought against Verona health care software maker Epic Systems is on the ropes after a federal judge said Tuesday that unless convinced otherwise, he would dismiss the suit in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday that compels a different group of Epic workers to arbitration to resolve wage disputes.
The lawsuit was brought in December 2016 on behalf of Epic quality assurance workers who say they were illegally denied overtime pay. In January 2017, the case was put on hold while the Supreme Court decided a similar case involving Epic technical writers, which also involved a wage dispute.
Epic’s lawyers had also filed a motion to dismiss the case on essentially the same grounds as in the case involving the technical writers — that quality assurance workers are bound by arbitration agreements under which they have waived their right to pursue wage disputes in court.
On Monday, a split Supreme Court sided 5-4 with Epic, ruling that because of the arbitration agreements, the technical writers cannot pursue a class action lawsuit.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Conley noted the ruling, and in an order, he lifted the hold on the lawsuit brought by the quality assurance workers. He also said that lawyers for the quality assurance workers, who are the same lawyers who represent the technical writers, have until June 12 to explain why he shouldn’t grant Epic’s motion to dismiss the case and compel individual arbitration.
Conley also wrote that if the quality assurance workers in their response continue to oppose arbitration, Epic would have two weeks to respond.
Caitlin Madden, one of the lawyers who represent both the quality assurance workers and the technical writers at Epic, said Tuesday that she could not comment on the pending case.
In their lawsuit, the quality assurance workers claim that they were misclassified by Epic as being exempt from overtime pay rules, despite performing low-level computer work that requires little training or education in computer programming or engineering.
Analysts, programmers and software engineers, for example, are exempt by law from overtime pay rules. While the case hasn’t progressed far enough to gain class certification, the lawsuit states that as many as 1,000 people were potential class members.
In 2014, Epic settled a class action lawsuit over wages brought by past quality assurance workers for $5.4 million. Another lawsuit brought by former technical writers was settled in January 2017 for an undisclosed sum.