Five plaintiffs have filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Lewis Gale Medical Center over alleged wage violations and discrimination.
The timeline in the case dates back to 2013 when the defendant looked into how best to bolster security at the hospital. Three years later, the defendant hired an individual as Manager of Security who, the case states, was brought on despite Lewis Gale Medical Center’s knowledge of the individual’s placement on administrative leave from the Roanoke City Police Department due to “disparaging and insensitive remarks on a social media post.”
The plaintiffs—all minority men residing in Virginia—allege the new supervisor began treating them differently from white employees shortly after he was hired. From the complaint:
“[The individual’s] differential treatment included but was not limited to: denying [the plaintiffs] opportunities for advancement, singling out the plaintiffs for unfair treatment, disciplining [the plaintiffs] more harshly than white employees, denying [the plaintiffs] the opportunity to become Special Conservators of the Peace (‘SCOP’), falsely accusing [the plaintiffs] of misconduct, denying [the plaintiffs’] requests for Paid Time Off (‘PTO’), and giving white employees preferential treatment in scheduling."
According to the case, the defendant’s management was aware of the security supervisor’s allegedly discriminatory actions.
An incident occurred in the defendant’s emergency room in April 2017 that prompted a Security and Emergency Preparedness Assessment the following month, according to the case. From this evaluation, the suit says, it was recommended to Lewis Gale Medical Center that all security personnel obtain Special Conservators of the Peace (SCOP) certification. Coinciding with this was the approval by the defendant of new jobs the lawsuit describes as “well respected and heavily sought after” that would come with a substantial pay increase. Such officers would carry tasers and wear badges stating “Police,” the suit says.
After the requirements for the new SCOP positions were posted, the security supervisor allegedly added an additional caveat mandating candidates have police officer experience to be considered.
“Upon information and belief, [the individual] imposed this requirement so that the white former police officers whom he planned to and did hire would receive the higher-paid, sought-after positions as Special Conservators of the Peace,” the suit alleges, claiming the defendant was aware of this yet did not intervene.
Three white males were hired for the new SCOP jobs at the hospital, the lawsuit says. The security supervisor reportedly informed the new hires that “they would not be required to work weekends or holidays.” An effect of this, the plaintiffs say, is that morale in the hospital’s security department has sunk, as different standards allegedly exist for white security personnel than for minor security officers.
While the plaintiffs have filed complaints, the defendant has allegedly refused to process the claims in a timely manner.
Per the lawsuit’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims, the plaintiffs say they were “strongly encouraged” by the defendant to clock in seven minutes prior to their actual shift start times. While the hospital supposedly allows for a seven-minute grace period, this policy reportedly did not apply to security employees. The hospital allegedly approved disciplinary write-ups for security department personnel in the face of its own policies, according to the case.
What’s more, the hospital allegedly toyed with the plaintiffs’ recorded work hours, rounding work time to the nearest quarter hour:
“The rounding worked in favor of the defendant. This practice resulted in [the plaintiffs] and all other similarly situated employees being denied wages, including overtime premiums.”
Lastly, the plaintiffs claim they were not properly paid for five days spent on mandatory interviews, training and orientation with a third-party company to continue their employment with the defendant. The men claim that while they received a minimum wage from the third-party company, the pay was at a lower rate than their regular compensation, with the defendant refusing to pay the plaintiffs for this work-related time.