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Fresno City Attorney's Wage Theft Unit Targets Valley Children's Hospital
gvw_edward_smith
By Edward Smith
Published 1 month ago on
June 12, 2024

City of Fresno Attorney Andrew Janz says he is looking into reported wage theft at Valley Children's Hospital locations in Fresno. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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After a lawsuit was filed Friday by on-call employees at Valley Children’s, the Fresno City Attorney says he is looking into reported violations at the hospital’s Fresno locations.

The complaint received by City Attorney Andrew Janz marks the first investigation of its kind since Fresno City Council gave the green light to go after wage theft claims.

“My office is in receipt of the formal complaint filed in Madera County by Brian Whelan, the attorney representing those in the class action suit against Valley Children’s which concerns, among other things, wage theft,” Janz said in a statement to GV Wire.

Attorney Brian Whelan filed a class-action lawsuit against the hospital Friday on behalf of a long-time employee who said they were only paid $6 to $8 an hour for on-call time. The lawsuit stated that the pay rate and the failure to pay overtime violated state law.

“At a time when too many pay lip service to our nurses, this lawsuit is about delivering basic rights for the most important people in our Valley; those who take care of sick children and help lift up Valley families in the midst of a medical crisis,” Whelan said.

Valley Children’s Employee Says On-Call Pay Far Below Minimum Wage

While not a matter of stolen wages, Fresno councilmembers say they have heard numerous people say they are underpaid or lacking proper equipment.

Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias said he has heard complaints from employees who said wages for some workers are less than for fast-food workers.

“I’ve received numerous complaints from rank-and-file employees and from contractors from Valley Children’s indicating that Valley Children’s refused to compensate them appropriately and refused to adjust their salaries so that they won’t be making less than fast-food workers,” Arias said.

The news comes as the board made Valley Children’s CEO Todd Suntrapak one of the highest paid children’s hospital CEOs in the country.

Since the news about Suntrapak’s pay, he has only done one interview to GV Wire’s knowledge.

In his interview with ABC 30, Suntrapak addressed claims about underpaid workers, saying for nurses their pay is “fluid.”

He also said they recently brought nurse pay up.

“We recently made an adjustment to our nursing salaries that puts our nursing salaries on par with anyone else in the area,” Suntrapak said.

City Has a ‘Responsibility’ to Ensure Employees in the City Are Protected: Bredefeld

Even though the hospital is in Madera County, Janz said the hospital has operations in Fresno.

Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld said the city has a responsibility to ensure employees in the city are protected.

Bredefeld also criticized the hospital’s executive pay.

“Basically you have executives and the CEO enriching themselves on the backs of sick, poor children. 75% of these children are on MediCal,” Bredefeld said. “When you compare these executive salaries to other executive salaries across the nation, they are way overpaid.”

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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