Nurses’ Union Files Suit Against Tenet Healthcare for Alleged Violations of State Labor Law
The United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals yesterday filed suit against Tenet Healthcare Corp., alleging that the company violated state labor law by forcing nurses to work through meal and rest breaks without payment, the Orange County Register reports. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, names Santa Barbara-based Tenet and the company's 10 hospitals in Southern California (Wolfson, Orange County Register, 4/5). The lawsuit asks for a court order to force Tenet to provide adequate staff to allow employees to take lunches and breaks and seeks back wages and "unspecified damages" (Bloomberg News/Los Angeles Times, 4/5). According to Robert Cantore, a lawyer for the 12 nurses named as plaintiffs in the case, Tenet's hospitals suffer from "chronic understaffing" and do not provide "enough relief nurses to allow for the breaks to be taken." The Orange County Register reports that Cantore will seek class-action status in the case for about 7,000 nurses, which would increase the amount of the damages sought in the lawsuit to about $420 million. "We of course would entertain settlement offers that are somewhat less than that," Cantore said. Tenet spokesperson Harry Anderson said, "We will vigorously defend ourselves against these charges, which we believe to be false. We are a responsible employer of thousands of nurses in Southern California." Anderson criticized the lawsuit as a "blatant attempt to put pressure" on Tenet over the issue of paid breaks. He said that Tenet has discussed the issue with the union in negotiations with two of the company's hospitals in Southern California (Wolfson, Orange County Register, 4/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.