Tacoma's MultiCare nurses win back pay for breaks worked

Staff writerMarch 13, 2014 

MultiCare Health System registered nurses who claimed they were forced to work through their breaks have been paid nearly $100,000 in back wages by the health care system.

Attorneys for 778 registered nurses who worked for Tacoma’s MultiCare from 2004 through 2010 said those nurses recently received checks totaling $98,336 for missed breaks that they documented.

“Charge nurses routinely told their RNs not to expect breaks,” said attorney Stephen Hansen, who represented the nurses. “The nurses worked through their breaks, and the law required they be paid overtime.”

Nonunion nurses working for MultiCare brought suit against the health system several years ago.

That suit was consolidated with a similar suit brought by union-represented nurses at MultiCare facilities.

“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. Recently the Supreme Court changed the way those payments were to be calculated. We addressed those changes in the settlement of this case and agreed to compensate nurses according to the newly developed interpretation for all missed rest breaks that they had recorded in our payroll system,” said MultiCare spokeswoman Marce Edwards.

In addition to paying back wages, MultiCare agreed to conduct internal training seminars and adopt policies that emphasize the importance of granting nurses a 15-minute break every four hours.

MultiCare is Pierce County’s largest private employer. The health system owns and operates Tacoma General Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Allenmore Hospital, all in Tacoma. It also operates Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and Auburn Medical Center. The health care provider also manages a network of clinics and specialty facilities in the South Sound.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663 john.gillie@thenewstribune.com

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