The Washington State Nurses Association (?WSNA?) filed a grievance against the hospital because of the hospital?s failure to provide nurses with ?a? 15 ?minute? break ?each ?four-hour? work period.?? When the break period was missed the hospital provided the nurses with 30 minutes of straight time compensation: the 15 minutes they would ?have ?received ?had ?they? merely? rested ?as well as 15 additional minutes for instead working during the period. ?The nurses claim that they wereentitled to overtime pay, not just straight pay, for 10 of the 15 minutes of each rest period that they missed. ?This equaled an additional 5 minutes of straight ?time? for ?each ?rest ?break.?? ?The? nurses relied upon the Minimum Wage Act (?MVA?). The trial court granted summary judgment for the nurses. ?It awarded $52,361.51, which it doubled based? ?upon? ?a? ?finding? ?of? ?willfulness,? ?and $200,000.00 in attorney fees plus $22,545.00 in expenses. The hospital appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, dismissing the lawsuit. ?The nurses? Petition for Review to the Supreme Court was granted.
The Supreme Court described the issue:?? ?This case?? hinges? ?on? ?how? ??hours? ?worked?? ?are calculated: whether the 15 minutes nurses spent working through their breaks should be added to or substituted for the 15 minutes they would have spent at rest.? ?The Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the lost overtime award, but also found a lack of willfulness. ?We hold that both the missed opportunity to rest and the additional labor nurses provide constitute ?hours worked.? Even though Sacred Heart did not require the nurses to physically remain at the hospital after the end of the workday to make up their rest periods, nurses are entitled to overtime compensation because they provided additional labor to Sacred Heart . . . . We find a bona fide dispute?? existed? ?between? ?Sacred? ?Heart? ?and WSNA regarding whether straight pay or overtime pay was the appropriate method of compensation for the missed rest periods. WELA filed an amicus curiae brief, written by Toby Marshall and Steve Festor.
Washington State Nurses Association v. Sacred?Heart Medical Center, 175 Wn.2d ?822, 287 P.3d 516 (10/25/12).