hospice care

The Covid-19 pandemic served as a stark reminder of how being sick can turn a person’s world upside down. California’s sick pay law attempts to mitigate this problem by protecting employees who are unable to work due to illness. Now, a lawsuit against a hospice provider is putting that law to the test. Community Hospice, a California-based company, has been sued for allegedly failing to pay accurate wages, plus overtime, sick pay, and other violations. If you face similar issues with your employer, reach out to us.

The Law and the Lawsuit

California Labor Code Section 246 is also known as the California Paid Sick Leave Law. Under the law, employers must generally provide and allow their employees to use at least 24 hours, or three days, of paid sick leave per year. Employers must also provide written notice to their employees of how much paid sick leave is available to them, either on a wage statement or in a separate writing given to the employee on the designated pay date.

The lawsuit against Community Hospice, Inc., filed by current and former employees, alleges the company violated Section 246 during the Covid-19 pandemic to the tune of nearly $5 million. The class action lawsuit accuses Community Hospice of failing to pay accurate wages, plus sick and overtime pay, from the period of September 2019 to April 13, 2022.

The plaintiffs argue that employees would routinely earn non-discretionary incentive wages, which thereby increased their regular pay rate. But when employees were paid their sick pay wages, they were allegedly paid at the base rate instead of the (higher) regular pay rate. The company is also accused of rounding its employees’ time down instead of paying employees for the actual hours they worked. The wage statements given to employees failed to state the accurate hours worked during the pay period, according to the lawsuit.

Overtime Wages and Other Claims

In addition to sick pay allegations, the lawsuit claims that employees did not get paid under a promised incentive program that included merit-based bonuses. This effectively caused an underpayment of overtime compensation, which was based on a regular rate instead of a higher one that included incentive pay.

Additionally, plaintiffs contend that Community Hospice failed to reimburse employees for required business expenses and did not afford workers proper meal and rest breaks. Instead, employees claim they were made to work even when they were clocked out for meals. Also, during some shifts, workers allege they were not allowed rest periods.

Lawsuit Raises Familiar Wage and Hour Claims

Our firm is familiar with many of the claims asserted in the lawsuit, which are not unique to Community Hospice or California workers. Regardless of where and by whom you are employed, you may encounter a number of workplace practices such as:

  • Failing to pay minimum wage or overtime (time and a half pay)
  • Miscalculating your total hours or rate of pay
  • Misclassifying you as an independent contractor when you’re actually an employee
  • Requiring you to work “off the clock” while not compensating you
  • Paying a day-rate or piece-rate but no overtime premium
  • Tip pool misuse, not paying the difference between the minimum direct cash wage ($2.13/hour, federally) and regular minimum wage, and other problems with tips
  • State and local wage and hour violations

If You Aren’t Being Paid Accurately, We Can Help

If your employer is violating your rights in any of the ways mentioned above, our law firm is here to take action. The Lore Law Firm pursues litigation against employers like Community Hospice who don’t follow the wage and hour laws that protect all employees everywhere. Learn more about your legal options today by completing our free and confidential online client intake form.

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.