Kaiser Stiffs Call Center Nurses, Class Action Claims
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Kaiser forces its call center advice nurses to perform pre- and post-shift tasks off the clock and during meal breaks, according to a class action. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco/Oakland Division, as a collective and class action.
Monica Smith, representing herself and a class of others similarly situated, sued Kaiser Foundation Hospitals for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act as a collective action, for violations of the California Labor Code for failure to pay minimum, regular and overtime wages, for unlawful deductions, for failure to provide meal breaks or accurate wage statements and for failure to reimburse expenses as a class action and as a Private Attorney General Act action, and for violations of the Business and Professions Code.
Kaiser offers call center services to its patients, and employs telephone service representatives as Advice Nurses and Telemedicine Specialists to handle the patient calls. “The only difference between the job duties of Telemedicine Specialists and Advice Nurses lies in the types of patient calls the class members receive. Telemedicine Specialists receive triage calls, while Advice Nurses receive non-triage calls from across various medical specialties,” according to the action.
Some phone reps work in brick-and-mortar facilities in California and Georgia, and “remote” reps work mostly from home in California and Georgia. All reps have the same duties and use similar computer systems, software programs, applications and phone systems. Smith says she has worked as a remote Kaiser phone rep since 2012, and regularly works more than 40 hours per week and more than eight hours per day. For three years during that time, she says she was required to work one shift per month at a brick-and-mortar call center, and required to travel to meet with a supervisor twice a year.
Smith claims that reps have to start-up and log into their computers, as well as multiple programs and applications before they are allowed to clock in, and that they perform similar tasks off the clock during their meal breaks and after their shifts. Reps working in facilities are not paid for time spent locating equipment, and those working from home that have to drive into a facility are not paid for their drive time, and all reps are not paid for time spent after their shifts shredding and disposing of patient notes.
Phone reps use multiple computer programs, software programs and applications, and it takes time to boot up and log onto each one, and to shut-down and log out of them, the action claims. If technical issues arise, including frequent program updates, the time employees spend before or after they log in or out is even longer, according to the suit.
As reps are required to work full-time shifts while they are on the clock, all the extra time they work off the clock would be overtime. The unpaid minutes can add up to several hours per paycheck. Since employees also have to do this extra work during their meal breaks, Kaiser is also not providing a full uninterrupted meal break to these employees, according to the action.
Smith seeks disgorgement and restitution, actual and liquidated damages, and penalties, as well as interest and legal costs. Plaintiff also seeks an injunction to stop Kaiser from continuing the unfair business practices. The plaintiff is represented by Jahan C. Sagafi of Outten & Golden LLP in San Francisco, California, and Kevin J. Stoops of Sommers Schwartz P.C. in Southfield, Michigan.