Three local employees sued Catholic Healthcare West this week. They accuse the hospital system of violating state rules on breaks, and they seek to turn the lawsuit into a class action.
The issue is hot right now. Two years ago, the state Supreme Court ruled that workers denied lunch or rest breaks could seek back pay for up to three year’s worth of missed time off.
The Catholic Healthcare lawsuit seeks back pay for four years, saying the hospital system also violated the state’s unfair competition laws. If the lawsuit is approved as a class action, the case could cover 5,000 or more workers. And then costs could run high. If each worker missed one break per shift, the hospital system’s liability could be more than $80 million. Catholic Healthcare isn’t the only hospital system in the hot seat. Sutter Health is dealing with its own worker complaints that could cost millions.