MultiCare Settles Suit With Nurses, Agrees To Shell Out Back Pay For Overtime

Mar 13, 2014

A major south Sound hospital chain has agreed to give back pay to nearly 800 nurses.

The deal settles a class-action lawsuit filed by nurses against MultiCare Health System, the nonprofit entity that runs Tacoma General Hospital, Auburn Medical Center and others.

The nurses accused the company of leaning on them to work through meal and rest breaks. The plaintiff’s attorney, Steve Hanson, says the pressure played on the nurses’ dedication to the job.

“They’re very adamant about giving good patient care. You know, that is their number one priority. And they’ll do it at their own personal sacrifice, but the law says that you’re supposed to have those breaks,” he said.

In 2010, the nurses sued, asking for overtime pay in cases where skipping breaks exceeded a person’s 40-hour work week.

Hanson says MultiCare agreed to pay just under $100,000 to the nurses, for an average payout of $126 per nurse. MultiCare also agreed to add training and consider new policies to make sure nurses get their breaks.

A MultiCare spokesman said in a statement, "MultiCare supports its nurses – and all of its employees - receiving required breaks during their shifts and had paid all of its employees anytime they recorded in our payroll system that they missed a rest break."

The company added that how those payments are to be calculated was recently clarified by the state Supreme Court, and that Multicare is now in full compliance. 

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