Current and former employees of California-based Community Hospice, Inc. have filed a lawsuit to the tune of nearly $5 million in alleged unpaid wages during the pandemic.
The hospice company is accused of violating the California Labor Code that stipulates employers must provide sick leave to workers.
In the recently filed class action complaint, the workers alleged that the hospice failed to pay accurate wages for hours worked, along with sick and overtime wages, between September 2019 and April 13, 2022.
Attorneys at the law firm Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP are representing the health care workers in the matter.
“According to the lawsuit filed, Community Hospice, Inc. allegedly failed to pay employees their accurate sick pay wages, which violates California Labor Code Section 246,” the firm indicated in a statement. “Employees routinely earned non-discretionary incentive wages which increased their regular rate of pay. However, when paid sick pay wages, it was allegedly paid at the base rate of pay rather than the higher regular rate of pay.”
The workers indicated that the hospice often “rounded down” when issuing payment for hourly wages versus the actual hours reported, alleging in the complaint that wage statements “failed to identify the accurate total hours worked each pay period.”
The lawsuit is currently pending in the Stanislaus County Superior Court in California.
Employees claimed that they did not receive pay that the hospice offered as part of an incentive program to hourly employees that included performance-based bonuses as part of their compensation packages. This resulted in an “underpayment” of overtime compensation for hours worked, according to the employees [per court doc]. Overtime wages were paid at a regular rate versus increased incentive wages the company promised as part of their compensation, the workers alleged.
Workers also cited a failure to reimburse for required business expenses incurred during the years in question, in addition to not being provided required meal and rest periods. Employees alleged that they were required to work even when they were clocked out for meal times and were denied rest periods for some shifts.
Financial losses incurred amounted to less than $5 million that the hospice allegedly “failed to lawfully compensate these employees,” and participated in “unfair and deceptive business practices,” according to the court documents.
Additionally, one African American worker also reported “numerous instances of racial discrimination” in the workplace that occurred on nearly a weekly basis during their employment, according to the complaint.
Allegations included derogatory comments about their hair, skin color and other physical characteristics. The organization “failed to remedy” the discriminatory conduct following the employee’s requests, causing them to leave their position in 2022, according to court documents.
Community Hospice, Inc. did not respond to Hospice News’ request for comment.