LOS ANGELES — According to a report by The Desert Sun, dozens of nurses working for a Palm Springs, California hospital have filed various labor and wage claims against the facility claiming they and others are owed thousands in unpaid overtime pay. Other nurses have filed their own unpaid overtime lawsuits against the same hospital, alleging that the health care provider tried to reduce payroll by keeping staffing levels low, overextending workers, and putting patients at risk.
Between 2015 and 2016, at least 55 nurses at Desert Regional Medical Center filed complaints with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office alleging that the facility failed to pay overtime when staff worked more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours total in a week. Furthermore, many complaints to the labor commissioner claim that Desert Regional Medical Center failed to offer a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break period required under state law and did not pay an extra hour of regular hourly pay.
The Desert Sun reports that many claims filed against the hospital are in excess of $60,000 and some even as high as $83,000. The newspaper reports that all the claims against the hospital add up to over $3 million and could cost the facility even more if plaintiffs bringing civil lawsuits to recover interest and penalties for their lost wages are successful.
Not only was the hospital allegedly committing wage theft against its staff, but the practice also put patients at risk by understaffing the facility. According to the article, in October of 2016 the California Nurses Association sent a letter to the hospital’s managers stating “On a daily basis there are compromises in patient care promoted by these conditions that put professional ethics in conflict with DRMC’s management of this hospital.”
While the complaints and lawsuits against Desert Regional medical Center are ongoing, the hospital claims it has hired almost 200 additional nurses to meet staffing requirements. In the meantime, the nurses will have to continue to fight to ensure they and others are paid for all their hard work.
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