Professional caregivers filed a class action lawsuit in California Wednesday on behalf of hundreds of workers throughout the state. They say their employer, Kindred Healthcare and its affiliates, shorted them on wages, overtime, and breaks.
Ginger Rogers, a caregiver with 25 years experience, says Kindred Healthcare hired her in 2012 to look after a patient at a skilled nursing facility in Castro Valley, outside San Francisco. She says she asked her supervisor if she could leave her patient's bedside to take a lunch break. The supervisor told her no, adding that coffee breaks weren't allowed either, according to the complaint filed in Alameda Superior Court today.
“That’s illegal,” says Hina Shah, co-director of the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at Golden Gate University, who is representing Rogers and the other plaintiffs. “The law mandates two 10-minute breaks and a 30-minute meal break for every five hours of work. But more importantly, the type of work that these caregivers are doing is physically and mentally demanding, and to require someone to work 12-hour shifts without any kind of break is very detrimental to their health and is onerous.”
The lawsuit also alleges the way these workers get paid violates the law, too. Shah says Kindred Healthcare pays its caregivers a flat sum for a 12-hour shift or a 24-hour shift. For some workers, that comes out to $5.83 an hour, “well below the minimum wage,” Shah says.
She added that these pay policies also denied workers overtime pay they were entitled to. Caregivers who work in nursing homes or assisted living facilities in California are entitled to time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked more than 8 in a day, and more than 40 in a week. But when Emma Delores Hawkins asked her supervisor for overtime pay, the supervisor responded, “We don’t have overtime.”