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Notice of collective action in Pamela Holden, et al. v. Bwell Healthcare, Inc., et al

The notice below describes a lawsuit filed by a group of employees against Bwell Healthcare, Inc. and two of its owners. The lawsuit claims Bwell and these individuals failed to pay them fully for overtime worked, including for work time spent traveling directly from one client’s home to another client’s home. Please see below for the full notice and instructions on what you need to do if you want to file a claim in the case.

Follow this link for a consent form to join the lawsuit Pamela Holden, et al. v. Bwell Healthcare, Inc., et al. Forms should be mailed or delivered to:

David Rodwin
Public Justice Center
1 North Charles Street, Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21201

The notice signed by the Judge in this case is at this link: notice of collective action

 


 

NOTICE OF COLLECTIVE ACTION

To:      All current and former home care employees who worked at any time from March 12, 2016, to the present for Bwell Healthcare, Inc.:

INTRODUCTION

            This notice contains important information about your rights under federal law (the Fair Labor Standards Act) as a result of your current or former employment with Bwell Healthcare, Inc. (“Bwell”). 

            A group of employees has filed a lawsuit against Bwell and two of its owners.  The lawsuit claims Bwell and these individuals failed to pay them fully for overtime worked, including for work time spent traveling directly from one client’s home to another client’s home.  You may be eligible to participate in this lawsuit.

            This Notice describes the lawsuit and what you need to do if you want to file a claim in the case.  This Notice is not an expression of any opinion as to any party’s claims or defenses.  In other words, there is no guarantee you and other employees will win or lose the lawsuit.

DESCRIPTION OF THE LAWSUIT

            On March 12, 2019, Pamela Holden and April Wright filed suit in federal court against Bwell and two of its owners, Femmy Kuti and Sunlola Kuti.  The name and case number of this suit is Pamela Holden, et al. v. Bwell Healthcare, Inc., et al. 19-cv-760.  Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint, adding claims of retaliation, was docketed by the Court on July 15, 2019.

            The Plaintiffs claim, among other things, that Bwell failed to pay them an overtime rate of 1 ½ times their regular hourly rate when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek and failed to pay employees for time they spent traveling between clients’ homes in a single workday.

            The lawsuit seeks back pay (unpaid overtime wages, including for compensable travel time), plus damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and court costs.  The right to recovery for any Plaintiff is not guaranteed or certain. 

            The Court has entered a preliminary injunction barring the Defendants from retaliating against any home care aides for participating in this lawsuit.  The injunction also prohibits the Defendants from communicating with any home care aides about this lawsuit.

WHO CAN JOIN THE LAWSUIT

            You may be eligible to join if you worked as a home care aide for Bwell and you worked more than 40 hours in a week but were not paid overtime (one-and-one-half times your hourly wages) for those overtime hours. You may also be eligible if you traveled directly from one client to another during the workday and, counting that travel time as work time, you worked more than 40 hours in a week.  The case is limited to those employees who worked at any time from March 12, 2016, until the present.

NO RETALIATION PERMITTED

            Federal law prohibits Defendants from firing you, retaliating against you, or discriminating against you in any manner because you join this lawsuit.  If you believe that you are being targeted or treated unfairly because of joining this lawsuit, please call David Rodwin at 410-625-9409 immediately. 

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

            If you meet the criteria above (“Who Can Join”), you may join this lawsuit (that is, you may “opt in”) by completing, signing, and mailing the enclosed Consent Form to the Plaintiffs’ lawyers at the following address:

David Rodwin
Public Justice Center
1 North Charles Street, Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21201

You may contact David Rodwin, an attorney for the Public Justice Center, at 410-625-9409 if you have any questions or concerns, including to confirm we received your Consent Form.  You may also retain your own counsel.

            If you think you are eligible to participate, please sign and mail the form as soon as possible.  You may lose your right to compensation and damages if you do not act promptly.  This form must be returned in sufficient time for Plaintiffs’ lawyers to file it with the court, and it must be filed within 90 days of the date at the end of the form.  If you do not return the Consent Form in time, you may not be able to participate.

EFFECT OF JOINING THIS LAWSUIT

            If you join this lawsuit, you will be bound by the judgment of the Court on all issues decided in this case, whether the disposition of those issues is favorable or not.  While this lawsuit is pending, you may be required, with the assistance of the Plaintiffs’ attorneys or other lawyers of your choice, to respond to written questions or testify under oath.  The attorneys for the class Plaintiffs are being paid on a contingency fee basis, which means that if there is no recovery there will be no attorneys’ fees.  You will not need to pay any attorneys’ fees.  If there is a recovery, the attorneys will be paid by the Defendants. 

By joining this lawsuit, you designate the Plaintiffs Pamela Holden and April Wright as your agents to make decisions on your behalf concerning the litigation, the method and manner of conducting this litigation, the entering of an agreement with Plaintiffs’ counsel concerning fees and costs, and all other matters in this lawsuit.  These decisions and agreements made and entered into by the Plaintiff Representatives will be binding on you if you join this lawsuit.  Your immigration status has no bearing on this lawsuit or on your right to recover wages owed to you.

NO LEGAL EFFECT IN NOT JOINING SUIT

            If you choose not to join this lawsuit, you need not do anything.  If you do not join, you will not be affected by any judgment or settlement rendered in this lawsuit, whether favorable or unfavorable.  However, if you do not timely file any claims you have, your claim could be time-barred, that is, it may be too late for you to file a claim.

            This notice and its contents have been authorized by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  This Court takes no position regarding the merits of the parties’ claims or defenses. 

 

Date Jan 3, 2020                                   The Honorable Stephanie A. Gallagher
U.S. District Court, District of Maryland

 

                                                                
                                                               

Lena Yeakey

Lena joined the PJC in June 2019 as a paralegal in the Workplace Justice Project. She graduated from Haverford College with a BA in Comparative Literature, focusing on contemporary U.S. and Latin American literature. Lena plans to go to law school eventually, after having grown her interest in legal services through several internships in immigration and wage theft advocacy, in Philadelphia, Indiana, Mexico City, and Lima, Peru. She is originally from Indiana, and loves baked goods and museums.

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David Rodwin

David Rodwin is an attorney in the Workplace Justice Project. Among other work, David represents home care workers in employment-related claims against the agencies that employ them and works to establish a culture of compliance in a violation-ridden industry. He also does know-your-rights outreach to worker groups and serves as Vice Chair of the Board for the Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative.

Before joining the PJC in 2015, David clerked for Chief Judge Catherine C. Blake of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, spent a year in Guatemala studying Spanish and working with landless farmers, and clerked for Judge Andre M. Davis of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. David was a member of the inaugural class at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, and graduated summa cum laude in 2012. During law school, he interned at the ACLU of Southern California, participated in the Immigrant Rights and International Human Rights Clinics, co-founded the Orange County Human Rights Association, co-wrote a law review note on the movement for human rights in the United States, and served as a research assistant to Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Before law school, David worked for an anti-caste discrimination human rights organization in India, taught English in Japan, and biked across Cambodia. He is a 2005 graduate of Johns Hopkins University. He is also a proud Big Brother to a great fifteen-year-old.

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Tyra Robinson joined the Public Justice Center’s Workplace Justice Project in August 2019.

Tyra graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where they were a Biskind Public Interest Fellow, volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and had their article published in the National Black Law Students Association’s publication, the Legal Pad. In law school, Tyra was an honoree of Who’s Who in Black Cleveland, an award in recognition of African-American achievement. Also during law school, Tyra participated in the Criminal Justice Clinic and received the Jack Cronquist Award for their performance and demonstrated commitment to clients.

Prior to law school, Tyra taught English abroad in Costa Rica for a short period and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in Communication.

In their career, Tyra aspires to make the law more accessible to and navigable for oppressed people. From that basis, they hope to share knowledge of the law with others to empower communities to exercise their rights.

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Sally Dworak-Fisher

Sally Dworak-Fisher is currently the lead attorney for the Workplace Justice Project. She joined the PJC in 2002 and has substantial litigation and policy experience. Sally has worked on national class action litigation for gender discrimination; class action litigation for unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Baltimore City jail; class action litigation for violations of homeless children’s education rights; and numerous collective action cases for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Maryland wage laws. Sally has also led policy efforts to expand and improve protections for low-wage workers and victims of wage theft, including but not limited to Maryland’s paid sick and safe leave law and Maryland’s unpaid wage lien law. She is active in several professional organizations and is the recipient of several awards including the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award and the Julie Martin Korb Excellence in Advocacy Award.

Prior to joining the PJC, Sally clerked for two federal judges and worked at a non-profit representing low-income immigrants. Sally graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Government and a concentration in International Relations. She graduated with honors from the University of Michigan Law School, where she received the Jane L. Mixer Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the advancement of social justice.

Sally enjoys travel, hiking, reading, running, yoga, and spending time with family.

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Monisha Cherayil

Monisha Cherayil came to the Public Justice Center in 2009 as a Francis D. Murnaghan Appellate Advocacy Fellow, and currently practices as a staff attorney in the PJC’s Education Stability and Workplace Justice Projects. Her accomplishments include helping to launch the Maryland Suspension Representation Project – a statewide effort to provide free legal representation to students facing disciplinary removals from school; securing settlements to recover unpaid wages and damages on behalf of classes of restaurant workers, construction workers, roadside flaggers, and other low-wage employees; and successfully advocating for legislation to allow unaccompanied homeless youth to pursue college tuition-free. Her practice reflects a commitment to the PJC model of enforcing and expanding the rights of oppressed individuals while pursuing systemic change.

Prior to joining the PJC, Monisha clerked for the Honorable Judge Phyllis Thompson on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She also worked for Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Boston, and the Harrison Institute for Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center. Monisha graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with honors in 2008 and from Brandeis University with honors and a joint degree in economics and political science in 2005.

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