A class action lawsuit has been filed against Dignity Health, claiming the California-based healthcare system deprived nurses of duly earned overtime pay. Timekeeping software that blocked nurses from logging more than 12 hours in any given shift was identified as the chief means of preventing staff from recording all time worked, according to a report in The Sacramento Bee.
As many as 1,200 nurses in the Sacramento area were impacted by the policy, the lawsuit asserts. As a matter of course, personnel were denied around 50 minutes of overtime for every 12 hour shift because the timekeeping software didn’t allow them to register necessary prep and wrap-up time before and after scheduled shifts.
Attorneys for the nurses insist the completion of ancillary duties amounts to unpaid work, in violation of the law.
“These practices are uniform across all Affected Units at the Sacramento Hospitals, occur on a routine and daily basis, and are within the employer’s knowledge such that Defendants knew or should have known the RNs and LVNs were being suffered or permitted to work off the clock,” the lawsuit states, according to the Bee.
The lawsuit is filed just as Dignity Health has announced plans to merge with Catholic Health Initiatives, a development that has also stirred labor conflict.
“We are extremely concerned about the future and unknown impact that his proposed merger will have on our pension,” Vivian Cherion, a nurse with a Dignity Health hospital in Redwood, tells The San Francisco Examiner. “Especially due to the structural changes that will take place in Dignity Health as it splits into two separate companies, Catholic and non-Catholic.”
Given the dramatic reach of Dignity Health (it is the the largest not-for-profit hospital group in California), healthcare advocates are also concerned about it entangling with a Catholic organization disinclined to provide services around reproductive health.
The class action suit related to missed overtime pay seeks up to $4,000 per plaintiff, a total that could run to nearly $5 million.
Dignity Health declined to comment on the specifics of the case, noting a standing policy about communications on pending legislation.
“At Dignity Health, patient care and safety are our highest priorities,” a statement from the healthcare provider reads. “We value our nurses and staff and their daily contributions to our patients and to our mission. We are committed to providing our employees with the work environment, tools, and resources they need to provide excellent care.“
(Main image credit: Associated Press)