Medical center employees, like doctors, nurses, technicians, and more, provide an essential service to society. They help us maintain healthy lives, fix our problems, and, even, save lives on a daily basis—it is truly an invaluable service that they provide. So, it is only right that these workers receive the proper compensation and wages that they work so hard to receive. No employee should have their wages held back or not compensated for any reason. However, even in the medical field, wages can be a topic fraught with problems. Even though medical professionals provide an important service to society, they can still be taken advantage of by their employers. Like with any other field of work, workers in medical centers can face issues regarding unpaid wages and improper compensation. In the state of California, there are many laws that serve to protect workers in any field, like workers in medical centers, from any wrongful compensation or illegal wage-related practices from their employers.
If you work in a medical center and you believe that you are not receiving the correct amount of wages from your employer, you may have a case. With help from an employment lawyer, you can begin the process of getting back any lost wages. At Stop Unpaid Wages, we can provide you with a team of excellent employment lawyers who are experienced in employment law and wage-related issues. You should not have to suffer from losing your wages. Also, your rights as a worker in California should, in no way, be violated. We may be able to help you with your wage-related issues.
Medical Center Wage Lawsuit
Unfortunately, wage-related lawsuits are a common occurrence within the medical field. Lawsuits are often filed by workers who have been cheated by their employers in California. Recently, in 2015, a group of medical professionals from the Sansum Clinic filed a lawsuit against their employer. Within the lawsuit, the employees alleged that their employer falsified time cards in order to avoid paying for overtime and to avoid compensating for missed meal breaks. The group consisted of about 1,500 current and former Sansum Clinic employees.
Within the lawsuit, an employee claimed that managers and supervisors at Sansum Clinic purposely falsified employee time cards which would deny proper overtime pay. More specifically, it was alleged that the supervisor would change time cards so that it appeared that employees did not work more than eight (8) hours in a single workday. Also, the employee claimed that the supervisors and managers changed time cards to hide the fact that employees worked more than five (5) hours without receiving a proper lunch break.
This lawsuit presents clear violations of employees’ rights. As employees within the state of California, they were denied rightful pay for working overtime and denied proper compensation for working through their breaks. Also, not only did Sansum Clinic fail to properly compensate their employees for their work, but they used improper and illegal practice when it came to time cards. Eventually, the lawsuit was settled, and Sansum Clinic was made to pay $2 million for the claim settlement. This settlement amount was made in order to compensate for lost wages as well as any legal fees.
As a recent lawsuit regarding wage issues for workers in a medical center, this brings up a couple of common issues that medical professionals may face on a daily basis. These include:
- Not compensating for overtime,
- Not compensating for missed breaks, and
- Improperly handling time cards.
These are just some common forms of wage-related issues in the medical field. With these actions, employers effectively deny employees of their rightfully earned wages. Also, they violate their rights as workers in California. There are specific laws that seek to limit the occurrences of these incidents; however, as seen above, they still do occur. No employee, no matter what field they work in, should have to suffer from being denied the wages that they have earned. Below, we will look at specific issues that commonly plague medical centers when it comes to wages.
Common Wage Related Issues in Medical Centers
Like with most other occupations in the state of California, workers in medical centers may commonly be faced with wage-related issues. It is an unfortunate reality, and it can be frustrating and stressful for anyone. Yet, it is important to know that within the state of California, there are laws meant to protect workers from being denied their wages, like California’s Labor Codes. Also, there are laws that describe situations in which employees may receive a special rate of pay. Above all of this, all employers must abide by these laws and guidelines. It is crucial that employers understand and follow these laws to ensure that all of their employees receive the rightful wages that they have earned.
Also, most of the laws are enforced under the state’s Department of Industrial Relations, or more specifically the Division of Labor Standard Enforcement (DLSE). This is where you would usually need to file any claims you may have about lost wages and more.
Below are some common situations where wage theft, or other issues pertaining to wages, may arise. It is in no way definitive. It is important to understand that there may be many ways an employer can deny wages. For more information, you can look in California’s laws regarding wages and your employer’s responsibilities when it comes to wages.
When it comes to paying the proper wages and compensating for any work done while on the job, all employers have an obligation to ensure that workers receive their wages from all work done and on time. They must be able to keep a record of all time worked and to make sure that their employees receive the proper breaks as well. Under state laws, wages indicate any payment made for labor done by an employee. More than just a paycheck, wages can be made to include sick pay, vacation pay, and other benefits.
Under California Labor Code Section 1171.5, all workers are entitled to all wages that they have earned. Also, under state policies, workers are entitled to certain pay rates, such as minimum wage and overtime rates, should they meet the requirements. This simply means that employers may not pay less than the minimum wage rate, or less than the rates for overtime. Also, if your employer has promised to pay you a certain rate, then they must follow through on the promise.
When you begin your employment, all terms must be agreed upon between you and your employer. This can include pay rates and more. Also, under Labor Code Section 204, your employer must pay employees at the very least twice a month.
Lastly, all employers should keep accurate records of their employees’ working hours. This can mean making sure that time cards accurately reflect all hours worked as well as overtime hours. Also, they must make sure to include break times and to compensate for missing breaks.
A major wage-related in any profession is overtime pay. Especially in medical centers where employees may work overtime when emergencies arise or when more assistance is needed, overtime pay can become a major issue when it is not properly compensated by employers. Overtime pay starts when an employee has worked over a certain number of hours in a workday or workweek. There are different rates of pay when compensating for working overtime. The wage rates are as follow:
- More than 8 hours in a workday = Time and a half (1.5x)
- More than 40 non-overtime hours in a workweek = Time and a half (1.5x)
- Seventh-day in a row in a workweek = Time and a half (1.5x)
- More than 12 hours in a workday = Double time (2x)
- More than 8 hours on a seventh day in a workweek = Double time (2x)
All of these rates are in relation to your regular rate of pay. So, “time and a half” indicates your regular rate of pay plus half of that per hour. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Labor Code Section 520, all employers must abide by the overtime guidelines and they must properly compensate for any overtime hours worked. Different rules may apply to alternative work schedules.
When it comes to overtime, an employer may never ask an employee to take time off of work rather than be compensated with overtime pay. However, an employee may ask for time off instead. Also, if your employer makes you work through your lunch or rest breaks, they must compensate you for that time—even if it is overtime.
Most importantly, an employer may never ask an employee to work off the clock. As stated before and as defined under state laws, an employee must be rightfully compensated for all hours worked. Any type of labor is enough to be considered working. If your employer does not compensate you for working overtime or not paying the correct rates, then they may be liable for any lost wages.
When working in a medical center, you may find yourself too busy and too under pressure to take a break. You may even be asked to work through your lunch breaks or your rest breaks. It is not forbidden to work through your breaks; however, you must always be compensated for working during these periods.
In California, under Labor Code Section 512, most employees must receive a thirty (30) minute lunch break if they work more than five (5) hours in a workday. However, a worker may waive, or give up, their lunch or meal break if they do not work more than six (6) hours. If an employee works more than ten (10) hours in a workday, then they may receive an additional thirty (30) minute break.
If your employer has asked you or has made you work through your lunch or meal break, then they must compensate you for this time. The compensation rate may be either at regular or overtime pay depending on the total hours of work you have done. Again, all work done must be compensated by your employer.
Also, in California, an employee must receive a ten (10) minute break for every four (4) hours worked. Unlike with lunch or meal breaks, these breaks are paid. They must be in the middle of the shift within reasonable means.
It is an unfortunate truth that discrimination may come into play when considering your wages. Even employees who work in a medical center may not escape this reality. In California, under Government Code Section 12940, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate their employees, or prospective employees, based on non-performance affecting factors such as race, color, religious beliefs, disability, gender, sex, sexual orientations, age, or military status. This can also be made to include immigration status as well. Not only do discriminatory practices violate state laws, but they violate federal ones as well. Not only can discrimination lead to uncomfortable situations in the workplace, but it may also cause financial suffering for employees when it affects their wages.
Discrimination in the workplace simply indicates situations where employers treat certain employees differently based on their appearance or other characteristics. It is also important to know that discrimination can either be positive or negative. When an employer treats a certain group of people better, it is still considered to be discrimination.
Gender discrimination is a prominent form of discrimination in the workplace, especially in medical centers. When it comes to wages, female employees tend to be paid less than their male counterparts. Even though they may share the same duties, female employees may be paid less than male employees. This is illegal under state and federal laws. Employers must pay all employees the same wages for having the same duties and responsibilities, and for working the same amount of time. If they fail to do this, they will be liable for any lost wages.
When it comes to discrimination cases, employers may be liable for any and all lost wages as well as damages for their employees’ suffering. When it comes to discrimination and wage issues, the problem can be more invisible; however, it is important to stay on top of your wages and be aware of any discriminatory practices should they occur in your workplace.
Employer Retaliation / Termination
In any workplace, employer retaliation may have a major impact on your wages. Employer retaliation is, as its name suggests, an act of revenge against an employee by an employer. Usually, this arises when an employee files a lawsuit against an employer, files a discrimination complaint or notifies authorities of shady practices in the workplace. An employer may retaliate by terminating an employee, demoting an employee, reducing their pay, ending their benefits and more. In all cases, an employer seeks to make the employee suffer in some form. Under Labor Code Section 98.6, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against their employees, as they receive special protections.
Employer retaliation situations may arise when you complain about lost or unfair wages. However, whenever you file a complaint against your employer, you are always protected from retaliation under state law. This is also to ensure that workers across the state feel safe and protected should they need to file a complaint.
Besides employer retaliation, if you have been terminated (illegally or not), you should always receive your final paycheck when you leave. This final paycheck will reflect any hours worked from the last paying period. If your employer fails or refuses to give you this final paycheck, they will be liable for lost wages. Also, they will have to pay a day’s wage for every day the check is withheld from you.
What Options Do You Have to Receive Lost Wages?
If you are a worker in a medical center who has been denied proper wages or compensation, you may be unsure of what to do about it. You should know that you do have options available to you should this occur. Through certain processes, you may be able to receive any lost wages from your employer. The two major options you do have include filing a complaint with California’s Labor Commissioner or taking legal action.
When it comes to wage issues, you should always speak with your manager or employer first. It is their responsibility to take care of such issues for you. However, if they do not help you, or if they are the root of the problem, you may seek other options.
One option is filing a wage complaint against your employer. In California, you will file this complaint with the Labor Commissioner within the Department of Industrial Relations. When filing a complaint, there are a couple of steps to remember. First, prepare your complaint by gathering documents related to your wages, such as pay stubs, contracts, and more. You can even include notes or logs about the hours that you have work. Next, file the complaint. If approved, you and your employer will meet with an official to come to a settlement. If this fails, it will move to a hearing. The goal is to receive your lost wages during this process. If there is a decision from the hearing, your employer may choose to appeal the decision which will then send it to be reviewed in court.
Once your complaint reaches this point, or if you want to skip the whole process, you may seek the assistance of an experienced employment lawyer. With a lawyer, you may be able to determine what laws and rights your employer has violated.
If you have been denied your proper wages and compensation, remember these steps to begin the process receiving your wages back:
- Speak with your employer regarding the issue
- Prepare to file a complaint by gathering documents
- File your complaint with the Labor Commissioner's office
- If approved, attend a settlement conference with your employer
- If unsuccessful, attend a hearing to present your argument
- Review the decision
- If appealed, complaint moves to court
Everyone’s situation is different. Your issue may require different steps and following different options—it all comes down to the details and circumstances of your situation. However, if you are unsure of what path to follow, you can contact an employment lawyer for help. They can look over your situation and help you to determine what path you should follow when fighting to get your lost wages back.
Finding an Employment Lawyer Near Me
As a worker in the state of California, you are guaranteed the right to receive your rightful wages as well as any, and all, proper compensation for all of the work you do. This is a right that no employer may take away or violate. However, they may still utilize unfair and illegal practices when dealing with their employees’ wages. Even for workers in medical centers across the state, incidents of not receiving the proper wages or compensation still can occur. This can happen to workers in many forms, such as inaccurate overtime wages, not being compensated for breaks, wage-based discrimination, employer retaliation, and more. No worker should have to endure the financial suffering that may come from being denied rightfully earned wages. You should always be accurately compensated for all of the work you provide to your employer—no matter the situation.
At Stop Unpaid Wages, we believe that no worker should have to remain silent when it comes to their wages. Also, no worker should have to worry about whether or not they are being properly compensated for their work. If you work in a medical center and you believe that you have been denied your rightful wages and proper compensation, then we can help you. With our team of highly-qualified employment lawyers, we have the knowledge and expertise to assist workers across California with wage-related issues. Contact our unpaid wage attorney today at 424-781-8411 so we can look over your case. We are waiting to hear from you so that we can begin fighting for you.