Former cleaning staff at Montefiore Health System are filing a class-action lawsuit against the Bronx-based hospital network and the staffing agency that hired them.
The two former employees named in the complaint allege that they routinely worked more than 40 hours per week — even before the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – but were not paid extra for working overtime, as required under federal law. In some cases, the former employees state they had workdays that spanned more than 10 hours.
New York law also requires extra compensation for such workdays under its “spread of hours” rules, which the plaintiffs didn’t receive, according to the complaint. It also alleged other labor violations.
The complaint is seeking damages, including compensation for overtime pay, for the two named plaintiffs as well as all other current and former employees who had been hired as cleaning staff at Montefiore through a staffing agency over the past six years. That includes at least 200 individuals, according to the lawsuit.
The New Jersey-based staffing company named in the lawsuit, CSS Building Solutions (which does business as CSS Building Services), was responsible for issuing the employees’ paychecks. But the complaint lists Montefiore as a joint employer, noting that the workers wore Montefiore uniforms and their hours and tasks were dictated by hospital management.
“We have seen a pattern in the New York metropolitan area of hospitals hiring so-called ‘subcontractors’ to do the dirty work in their institutions while paying these essential workers substandard wages and no overtime,” said Lou Pechman, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
Neither Montefiore nor CSS Building Solutions responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
Plaintiff Danny Cruz worked at Montefiore between November 2017 and September of this year. He typically worked night shifts from 4 p.m. to midnight, but also often took on morning shifts from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. – in some cases, resulting in more than 80-hour work weeks. He earned minimum wage without getting time-and-a-half for extra hours, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit also alleged that Cruz sometimes got multiple paychecks for the same time period — occasionally with different names listed on them. During some of his time working at Montefiore, Cruz’s manager informed him that if he wanted to continue working extra hours, he would have to be paid under the name “Ricardo Soto,” the lawsuit said.
Pechman’s firm filed a similar suit on behalf of workers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center last year. However, that suit named only the companies that were responsible for hiring the staffers, not the Upper East Side hospital itself.
The suit resulted in the companies being required to pay out a little more than $129,000 to eight workers. Pechman said he is unsure of how widespread this issue is but is looking into a similar case in the Hudson Valley.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the time range of the complaint. The story has also been updated to add a statement from Lou Pechman.