Three nurses, all of whom worked for Dignity Health, a hospital operating company based in San Francisco, have filed suit against the health system, alleging in court documents filed on September 10, 2018 that seven of its hospitals failed to pay them overtime.
California Nurses Seek Class Action Status Against Dignity Health
The legal complaint, currently seeking class action certification, claims that the seven Dignity Health hospitals use timekeeping software that prevents nurses from logging overtime hours. Dignity Health is the fifth largest hospital system in America, and the largest non-profit hospital provider in California.
Nurses Allege Incorrect Pay In New Lawsuit
Hourly nurses, such as registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, at Dignity Health facilities usually arrive between 20 and 30 minutes early before their shifts, staying about 10 to 20 minutes after their shift is over, to complete work-related tasks, the lawsuit claims.
During these periods of time, the complaint alleges, nurses review patient charts, plan continued patient care activities, complete paperwork and communicate with nurses from other shifts. But because the hospital system’s software rounds clock-in and clock-out times to next hour, the lawsuit claims, the nurses don’t get paid for their time.
No matter how much the nurses actually work, one plaintiff’s attorney told the Sacramento Bee, the nurses are paid “for exactly 12 hours of work per shift.”
7 Sacramento-Area Hospitals Named
The lawsuit names seven specific hospitals:
- Woodland Memorial
- Mercy General
- Mercy Folsom
- Mercy San Juan
- Mercy Redding
- Methodist of Sacramento
- Sierra Nevada Memorial
All of these hospitals, the complaint says, use the same payroll software, known as TEAM, to record nurse hours and attendance. The software, plaintiffs allege, does not allow them to clock in until seven minutes before their assigned shift start, even if they’ve come in to work earlier.
Lawsuit: Payroll Software Doesn’t Allow Nurses To Clock In Correctly
“These practices,” the lawsuit continues, “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.” In essence, the lawsuit accuses Dignity Health of allowing nurses to work without compensation, all because of the way this software was structured.
Up To 1,200 Nurses Could Be Affected
The lawsuit, which is now seeking certification from a court to act as a collective action against Dignity Health, was filed on behalf of three nurses, including one nurse who is currently employed at a Dignity Health hospital. In legal documents, attorneys estimate that up to 1,200 Sacramento-area nurses could be eligible to join the suit.
Nurses Seek Up To $4.8 Million In Back Wages
The class action seeks financial damages, demanding “actual damages or $50 for the initial pay period in which a violation occurred,” whichever amount is greater, along with $100 for each subsequent violation. The most a single plaintiff could secure in damages, according to the complaint, is $4,000. Together, given that 1,200 plaintiffs could eventually be identified, these claims could result in up to $4.8 million in back wages. The lawsuit is also seeking compensation to cover the nurses’ attorney’s fees.
Dignity Health Maintains Support For Nurse Employees
In an emailed statement to the Sacramento Bee, Dignity Health wrote that it was “reviewing the complaint, and as a matter of practice we do not comment on pending litigation. At Dignity Health, patient care and safety are our highest priorities. 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.”