SANTA CLARA COUNTY: County Must Pay $4.5M in Back Pay to Nurses
Santa Clara County must pay up to $4.5 million in back wages to about 400 mid-level managers and nurses "wrongly denied overtime pay by the county," a federal appellate court ruled Monday. The San Jose Mercury News reports that if the ruling stands, the nurses would get up to $1.5 million and the managers would receive about $3 million for overtime work performed beginning in 1991 and ending in 1997. Carol Koenig, who represented the nurses, said the court battle "could have been avoided if only the county had changed its policy" nine years ago. Under federal labor laws, salaried workers are supposed to receive full wages even if they do not work a full week. The county punished 53 of the 400 workers by suspending them and docking their wages by the number of hours they were off duty. The Mercury News reports that the county "classified [the nurses] as salaried workers not entitled to overtime pay but treated them as hourly workers when it came to discipline." Claiming a right to use a U.S. Supreme Court decision's provision of a "window of corrections" that allows employers to fix their mistakes, the county offered to pay the 53 workers their full weekly wages for the time they were suspended. But the federal appeals court sided with a lower court ruling, finding that the county was not allowed to use the window "because it had a practice and pattern of making the impermissible deductions." County Counsel Ann Ravel said the "county still believes the workers were not entitled to overtime pay," adding that the county would appeal the decision. But sources familiar with the case said the court is unlikely to side with the county (Kaplan, 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.