Kaiser settles $ 1.4 million employment class lawsuit – Courthouse News Service


Two former call center employees sued the healthcare giant, citing violations of federal and state payroll laws.

A Kaiser Permanente building near its headquarters in Oakland, Calif. (Coolcaesar via Wikipedia)

SAN DIEGO (CN) – A class of employees at the Kaiser Foundation hospital call center have struck a deal with the health giant over claims it still failed to properly pay employees.

Kaiser employed staff in its medical call centers in categories such as “telemedicine specialists”, “customer support specialists” and “wellness specialists”.

Former call center workers Monica Smith and Erika Sierra sued Kaiser in 2018, citing violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California laws governing salary and time tracking protocols for employees.

In their class action lawsuit, Smith and Sierra said Kaiser failed to accurately compensate employees for certain tasks performed during breaks and after their shifts. Duties included locating work equipment, shredding patient notes, traveling to Kaiser training locations, managing computer stations, and traveling to meeting locations.

Kaiser also failed to reimburse his staff for certain expenses related to the business, the plaintiffs said.

The parties have already requested preliminary approval for a settlement and have since been denied twice. A first agreement in principle was reached in February 2019.

U.S. District Judge Karen S. Crawford dismissed the earlier motions for preliminary approval over concerns about the structure of the settlement and the scope of the proposed class action lawsuit against the FLSA claims.

In October 2020, the parties filed amendments and corrections to the proposed settlement and filed a third motion for preliminary approval, which the court granted.

The settlement class includes employees who worked at Kaiser call centers in San Diego between February 21, 2013 and February 18, 2021, while the FLSA collective includes employees who worked at Kaiser call centers in San Diego between December 21, 2014, and February 18, 2021

At a fairness hearing held on June 9 by Crawford, no class member filed an objection to the settlement or appeared at the hearing. Six of the 474 collective members of the group and the FLSA asked to be excluded from the settlement.

The deal received final approval Tuesday from Crawford and will provide a gross settlement of $ 1,475,000 which, after deducting relevant fees, will amount to a payment of $ 922,000 to class members. Class members will receive an average payout of $ 1,971, with the highest payout being $ 5,894.

Complainants named Smith and Sierra will receive $ 7,500 and $ 2,500 in incentive bonuses, respectively, while opt-in complainant Christa Fox will receive $ 5,000.

The parties allocated $ 203,000 of the net settlement to collective members of the FLSA.

Counsel for the parties did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment on the settlement.

In return for payment of the settlement, the class members agree to release Kaiser from any claims relating to their lawsuit.

Crawford wrote in the June 15 order that the settlement met the four threshold requirements of number, commonality, typicality and adequacy of representation.

“The court finds that the proposed class representatives and their counsel vigorously pursued this action, ultimately leading to the settlement now before it, and faithfully performed their fiduciary duties to the absent class members,” Crawford wrote. “The court finds no evidence of collusion or antagonism. Additionally, the Class Counsel has experience in employment litigation and has successfully litigated numerous wage and hours class actions like this one.

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