Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Culver City's Hero Pay Ordinance

A United States District Court has rejected a lawsuit by Southern California Hospital at Culver City (SCHCC) challenging the city’s hero pay for hospital workers ordinance.

On January 19, the court issued an order dismissing the First Amended Complaint filed against the City of Culver City by SCHCC which challenged the legality of the Premium Hazard Pay Ordinance for hospital employees which 2021 Premium Hazard Pay Ordinance for hospital workers (Ordinance), which was adopted by the City Council on June 14, 2021.

According to city officials, 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 $5 an hour additional compensation to certain hospital front line workers for 120 days beginning July 14, 2021.

“The rejection of this case is a confirmation of the sacrifice borne by essential workers in grocery stores, hospitals and elsewhere during this pandemic, a sacrifice that they continue to make, as we collectively attempt to maneuver through the changing conditions of this pandemic,” said Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee. “I am proud that our City had the courage to recognize the danger that these individuals face in their jobs each day and bravery that they have exhibited as a result.”

SCHCC originally sued Culver City in the District Court on June 22, 2021, alleging 11 different causes of action, claiming that the Hero Pay Ordinance was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act, and was a violation of a number of provisions of the U.S. Constitution, including, among others, the Equal Protection Clause, Contracts Clause, and provisions guaranteeing Due Process.

Culver 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, city officials said. 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 District Court eventually issued its ruling on the city’s Motion to Dismiss and SCHCC’s Motion to Stay on January 19, 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 with “extreme liberality,” [internal quotations omitted] the court gives SCHCC leave to amend.”

At this time, it is unknown if SCHCC will file a Second Amended Complaint. The City said it will continue to monitor this case for any further action that might be required.


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