CHA News Article

Trial Court Upholds Overtime-Based 12-Hour Shift in Collective Bargaining Agreement

Last month, the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in favor of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in a wage and hour class action lawsuit. In Castillo v. Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, the plaintiffs alleged that the hospital’s pay practices for nurses working 12-hour shifts was unlawful, relying in large part on the 2005 Huntington Memorial Hospital v. Superior Court decision. The trial court, however, rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments.

In Castillo, the plaintiff nurses were represented by a labor union. In their collective bargaining agreement, the hospital and union agreed that nurses who work 12-hour shifts would receive a lower hourly rate than nurses who work eight-hour shifts, but would receive overtime for the last four hours of their shift. In addition, when a 12-hour shift nurse worked eight hours or fewer due to low patient census, the hospital would pay the higher hourly rate associated with eight-hour shifts.

The trial court found that the case was not governed by Huntington Memorial. Rather, “[t]he decisive difference between [Castillo] and Huntington Memorial is union approval.” Looking to California Labor Code Section 514, the court found that the collective bargaining exemption authorized the hospital and union to agree to the provisions at issue. As a result, the court granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment on this issue. While the decision is not binding on other trial courts, it provides an excellent analysis of the issue. It is unclear whether the plaintiffs will appeal. Hospitals with overtime-based 12-hour shifts should continue to monitor developments in this area.