Dignity Health workers demand better wages, benefits
A recent lawsuit alleges that up to 1,200 Sacramento-area nurses with Dignity Health worked as many as 50 minutes per 12-hour shift of unpaid overtime, three times a week — and that Dignity’s restrictive timekeeping software was part of the reason those hours couldn’t be logged properly.
Listing Dignity Health as the defendant, the class action complaint alleges that the plaintiffs were paid for exactly 12 hours of work per shift at hospitals in the greater Sacramento area, “regardless of when they actually clocked in or out,” attorney Bryan Lazarski wrote.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by two Los Angeles-based employment attorneys, Lazarski and Gregory Wong, on behalf of one current and two former nurses working with Dignity Health over the past four years.
Registered and licensed practical nurses must, by necessity, stay before and after their shifts begin and end for preparatory purposes at Dignity Health hospitals, the lawsuit claims. This typically involves 20 to 30 minutes of prep before work, with another 10 to 20 minutes of duty afterward. These duties include reviewing charts, planning patient care, other paperwork and communicating information with the preceding and following shifts’ nurses, the lawsuit explains.
“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 class action complaint said.
The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court and seeking class action status, further states that the Time and Attendance Software (known as TEAM) used does not allow nurses to clock in until seven minutes before their assigned start time.
“Although the purported ‘grace period’ would theoretically also allow a nurse to clock in as late as 7:07 and receive credit for clocking in at 7:00, this does not occur outside of highly unusual circumstances,” due to the prep work mentioned above, the lawsuit says.
Damages are sought, which the complaint says should be calculable because “records and/or metadata within the TEAM software should be able to show the actual clock in/out times that employees should have been paid for.”
The class action complaint seeks a total of “the greater of actual damages or $50 for the initial pay period in which a violation occurred,” plus $100 for each subsequent violation, up to a maximum of $4,000 in damages per individual.
With approximately 1,200 nurses qualifying for a potential class action case, this means the lawsuit could seek a maximum of about $4.8 million total. The lawsuit also seeks recovery of plaintiffs’ legal fees.
Dignity Health released a statement which said they “are 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.“
The complaint names seven hospitals: Woodland Memorial, Mercy General in Sacramento, Mercy Folsom, Mercy San Juan in Carmichael, Mercy Redding, Methodist of Sacramento and Sierra Nevada Memorial in Grass Valley.
Two of the plaintiffs regularly worked both day shifts and night shifts at more than one of these hospitals, the class action complaint says.
Dignity Health last week reached a deal following labor negotiations with the Engineers and Scientists of California Local 20 union, giving raises and tuition reimbursements to lab scientists and technologists. The deal was announced on Labor Day.