On January 19, 2022, the United States District Court issued an order dismissing the First Amended Complaint filed against the City of Culver City by the Southern California Hospital at Culver City, which challenged the legality of the June 14, 2021 Premium Hazard Pay Ordinance (Hero Pay) for hospital workers adopted by the City Council.
From the City, “The Ordinance was adopted to compensate essential hospital workers for their daily sacrifices and the ongoing risks and burdens they face while providing vital services to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ordinance required SCHCC to pay five dollars an hour additional compensation to certain hospital front line workers for 120 days beginning July 14, 2021.”
The union representing the workers, SIEU-UHW (Service Employees International Union- United Health Workers) was pleased with the decision. “This ordinance showed us that the Culver City Council recognizes the incredible sacrifices we have made to keep this city safe, and this ruling is a victory for the Culver City hospital workers who have shown up every day during this pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk to care for patients with COVID-19.” La Rhonda M. Smith, a speech-language pathologist at Southern California Hospital at Culver City, who had addressed the council on several occasions during the first part of the pandemic, spoke for the union. “Sadly, the hospital wasted taxpayer dollars challenging the law, but thankfully us frontline workers will be still be rewarded for our efforts during this public health criss. ”
The original agenda item for ‘hero pay,’ which was approved in April of 2021, and was split by the council, to separate support for grocery and retail workers from support for hospital workers. There was no ‘pushback’ from the retail or grocers, but Southern California Hospital (formerly Brotman Hospital) opted to sue to prevent the additional $5 per hour being added to employee wages.
The City filed a ‘Motion to Dismiss’ the original complaint, but before the motion was heard by the Court, SCHCC filed its First Amended Complaint. The City again filed a ‘Motion to Dismiss,’ and oral argument was held on October 25, 2021. On the same date, the Court heard argument on the ‘Motion to Stay the District Court’ case filed by SCHCC, while it appealed the denial of its motion for Preliminary Injunction. The Court eventually issued its ruling on the City’s Motion to Dismiss and SCHCC’s Motion to Stay on January 19th, dismissing all 11 claims against the City and denying the Motion to Stay.
The Court further opined that “the Court doubts that SCHCC can plead additional facts necessary to support the dismissed claims. Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, and given the Ninth Circuit policy of granted leave to amend.
At this time, it is unknown if SCHCC will file a Second Amended Complaint. The City will continue to monitor this case for any further action that might be required.
Mayor Daniel Lee noted “The pandemic may be winding down but the inequities put on display by it persist.”
Photo credit; National Nurses United