Eleven former employees of Long Beach Medical Center have filed a class-action lawsuit against the shuttered hospital for vacation time and other benefits they say are owed them.
The hospital has laid off about 670 of its 1,200 employees since the badly flooded hospital closed last October after superstorm Sandy.
The suit, filed Dec. 9 in State Supreme Court in Mineola, claims the hospital owes its former and current employees money accrued from vacation time and other benefits.
Long Beach attorney Michael Berman, who represents the employees, said he estimated the money owed to be "in the many millions."
"They're looking for Long Beach Medical Center to do the right thing," he said. But hospital administrators said in a statement that, while "we certainly want to provide these funds to our former employees," the medical center doesn't have the money.
"The medical center receives very limited revenue while continuing to incur the costs of maintaining its facilities," it said. "Consequently, the medical center does not currently have the financial means to pay all of its employees their accrued vacation time."
The hospital's nursing home reopened in February, providing work for 240 of the 1,200 employees. Another 190 have returned to work in the mental health clinic, the family care center, the home care agency, medical records, maintenance and engineering and in administration, hospital spokeswoman Sharon Player said.
The hospital, financially strapped before the storm, has been in talks since June -- at the state's urging -- with South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside about a merger.
Plaintiffs in the suit said it was less about the money per se than the feeling that they have been mistreated by the hospital administration.
"I don't think they have been very forthcoming with us," said Elaine Peck, 73, a nurse who worked 29 years at the hospital and said she is owed $19,800 for vacations she never took. "A lot of us didn't look for employment because they said they were opening soon."
Chief executive Douglas Melzer, also named in the class-action lawsuit, initially predicted that the hospital would be able to reopen within months.