Medquist Company Settles for $1.5 Million
From 1998 through 2008, transcriptionists who transcribed work for Medquist on a line-based pay scale may have been underpaid. The suit alleged that MedQuist manipulated its computer systems to underpay medical transcriptionists for transcription work that was compensated on a per-line basis. While Medquist denied wrongdoing, the parties agreed to settle the lawsuit.
The case was brought as a class action alleging claims against MedQuist Inc. and MedQuist Transcriptions Ltd. for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment and sought an accounting on behalf of medical transcriptionists who were compensated on a "per line" basis from November 28, 1998 through August 11, 2008. MedQuist agreed to injunctive relief and agreed to pay $1.5 million in cash to settle the case.
This is a precedent-setting case in transcription. The injunctive relief requires MedQuist to:
(a) Implement and disseminate a formal written policy that expressly states all definitions of payroll lines used by MedQuist transcription platforms for compensating medical transcriptionists;
(b) Make all definitions of payroll lines used by MedQuist transcription platforms available to MedQuist employees, candidates for employment, and the general public by including it within MedQuist's internet website;
(c) Make all definitions of payroll lines used by MedQuist transcription platforms available to MedQuist employees, including managers, recruiters, and medical transcriptionists by including it in MedQuist's employee handbook or other materials distributed to medical transcriptionists for their ongoing reference;
(d) Make available all definitions of payroll lines used by MedQuist transcription platforms to candidates for employment as a medical transcriptionist prior to or in connection with any verbal or written offer of employment;
(e) Identify for all medical transcriptionists who are paid based on a payroll line unit of measure, prior to or in connection with any verbal or written offer of employment, the payroll line definition that will be used to calculate their pay;
(f) Provide written notice to the affected transcriptionist employees in the event that MedQuist alters the definition of a payroll line or otherwise causes transcription work to be calculated for payroll purposes according to a different payroll line definition.
The bulk of the $1.5 million settlement payment will be distributed to the Association for Healthcare Document Integrity (AHDI). The payment to AHDI will be used to fund programs for the general benefit of medical transcriptionists and the medical transcription industry. In addition, qualifying class members will be eligible to participate in certain AHDI programs free of charge. No payments will be made directly to any individuals.
This case provides a cautionary tale to all transcriptionists to be alert about compensation methods. For more information about the settlement and AHDI, visit http://www.ahdionline.org