OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) --Caregivers say all they want is a living wage, and one group has filed a class action suit against a major healthcare provider asking for just that. The suit, filed Wednesday, claims Kindred Healthcare routinely pays its contract workers less than minimum wage and denies them lunch and rest breaks.
"Cooking, cleaning, transferring, showering, wound care, you name it," Ginger Rogers says describing her duties. She says she has a passion for the work she's done as a caregiver for the sick and elderly for more than 25 years -- but she also needs a decent paycheck. That's why Rogers is one of the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Kindred Healthcare.
"I know there's a lot of complaints and there's a lot of things going on, but nobody's speaking up because they need their job. They have families. So, there's a lot going on that's not being talked about," she told ABC7 News.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Rogers and others caregivers in Alameda County Superior Court alleges that Kindred and its affiliates in California failed to pay all wages, pay minimum wage and overtime, and did not regularly provide workers with meals and rest periods.
"Kindred has a policy and practice in place where they are not paying for all hours worked. For example, workers are paid a flat rate when they work 12 or 24-hour shifts, and some of those rates are so low that they result in minimum wage violations, as low as $5.80 an hour," explained plaintiffs' attorney Hina Shah.
Kindred has about 300 contract caregivers in California, that are hired by individual families to care for loved ones either at home or in a care facility. For instance, Rogers says she worked for a time in a Castro Valley as a "sitter" providing supervision and care for a client for a flat rate of just over $100 per day.
"No breaks, working 12 hours a day for about a year, no breaks, no lunch break, no 15-minute breaks," Rogers recalled.
Based in Kentucky, Kindred Healthcare offered no comment, saying the company has yet to receive the lawsuit.