Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

Kindred Healthcare plans to “vigorously” fight a lawsuit filed by some California employees alleging failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, and restricting break times, among other charges.

The case could affect the estimated 3.5 million such caregivers in the United States, the plaintiffs believe.

“We hope the lawsuit will set an industry standard requiring compliance with laws that govern this kind of work,” said attorney Hina Shah, the co-director of the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law.

California caregivers joined to file the class action lawsuit against Kindred and its affiliates Professional Healthcare at Home LLC and NP Plus LLC.

Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and the Women’s Employment Rights Clinic of Golden Gate University School of Law, along with the law firm of Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, filed the suit June 18 on behalf of caregivers employed by Kindred over the last four years.

Plaintiffs Ginger Rogers and Emma Delores Hawkins contend that Kindred did not pay for all hours worked, even when they had 24-hour shifts.

“When a worker works 24-hour shifts, the flat rate is actually below the minimum wage,” Shah told McKnight’s. “They (Kindred and affiliates) can’t waive their rights to minimum wage and time.”

Kindred and its affiliates also failed “to comply with the rules […] by failing to pay applicable overtime or to provide meal and rest breaks,” the press release stated.

Early last month, the lawsuit was undergoing the “discovery period” where both parties can investigate, Shah added.

Kindred Healthcare officials had yet to receive the lawsuit and said they would generally have no public comments until they investigated the matter. “However,” Susan Moss, senior vice president of marketing and communications, told McKnight’s, “we intend to defend this matter vigorously.”