According to a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of California nurses, the health care system Dignity Health did not pay overtime pay to nurses working shifts longer than 12 hours. The lawsuit says more than 1,000 nurses were affected by the policy.
The culprit is alleged to be the timekeeping system that would not allow nurses to record shifts longer than 12 hours. This meant that many nurses were unable to include time spent prepping for and wrapping up shifts. Attorneys say this constituted working without pay. Around 50 minutes of overtime were denied for every shift.
The lawsuit says the practice was widespread throughout the Sacramento area. The employer either knew or should have known, according to the lawsuit. The entire cost of the lawsuit for the organization could be as much as $5 million since the amount sought is up to $4,000 per employee. Both RNs and LVNs were affected. Dignity Health says its policy is not to comment on pending litigation.
Employers may seek to underpay employees in a variety of ways. This could include not counting certain duties as the regular work day, as was the case here, but it could also mean misclassifying regular employees as contractors or as exempt from overtime when they are not, paying regular hourly pay instead of overtime pay for extra hours worked, or denying employees the break time they are entitled to by law. Workers who believe they have been underpaid might want to consult an attorney about their rights. These violations are often widespread throughout an organization, and if this is the case, there may be a class action lawsuit.