CA Hospital OKs $4M Overtime Lawsuit Settlement

May 19, 2005 ( - A Thousand Oaks, California hospital has agreed to pay $4.75 million to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of miscalculating overtime and not paying hourly workers for missed rest periods and lunch breaks.

The settlement by Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center will result in payments ranging from $100 to more than $25,000 to 1,116 current and former employees who worked at the facility from October 1999 through July 2004, according to a Los Angeles Times news report.

Four respiratory therapists filed the suit in October 2003 over the hospital’s policy for paying overtime to employees – other than registered nurses – who regularly worked 12-hour shifts. According to the newspaper, the case was expanded to cover all affected hourly workers with allegations being raised that tight hospital staffing frequently meant workers couldn’t take standard rest or meal breaks.

State regulations require two paid 10-minute rest periods and an unpaid 30-minute meal break during an eight-hour shift. Failure to provide the breaks entitles a worker to an hour of pay for each missed break, up to two hours a day, a spokesman for the California Department of Industrial Relations, told the Times.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Della Bahan said about 98% of workers covered by the suit were contacted regarding a settlement, but only those who responded, or 42%, will share in the payout. The attorney said that the amount of money each worker receives will depend on how long they’ve worked for the facility and their pay grade.

Bahan said a major issue was Los Robles’ “factored rate” of pay, in which those regularly scheduled to work more than eight hours a day received time and a half pay for the overtime, but at a lower hourly rate in an effort to keep overall costs down. She alleged that the longer employees worked, the less they earned.

According to the Times, Los Robles is not the only Golden State employer to be hit with such a lawsuit. Last week, it was announced that Countrywide Financial Corp., agreed to pay $30 million to settle a lawsuit claiming it did not pay overtime to 400 employees at its Southern California call centers.