Whittier, like many areas in southern California developed out of land that was once, beginning in the late eighteenth century, owned by land-grant ranchers and farmers. The area became well known in the region for its citrus and walnut groves, and remained a largely agricultural area until around the turn of the twentieth century when a railroad line was built into Whittier, originally to transport the agricultural products with greater efficiency. Urbanization naturally followed. The urban development increased its pace in the mid-twentieth century when returning World War II soldiers came home and sought housing. Currently the city, which rests on the southeastern edge of Los Angeles County, has more than eighty-five thousand people within its area of just under fifteen square miles. Across the county line to the south and southeast are the Orange County cities of La Habra, Fullerton, and Buena Park. To the south and southwest, within the boundaries of Los Angeles County, are East Whittier (oddly enough) and La Mirada. Whittier’s western neighbors are South Whittier, Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, and Montebello. Heading north from Whittier, one encounters South San Gabriel and South El Monte, the site of the Whittier Narrows Recreational Area and Whittier Narrows Natural Area. Along the eastern border of Whittier are several additional nature preserves, natural parks, and hiking areas, including Sycamore Park, Turnbull Canyon, and Arroyo Pescadero Trail. Beyond those areas to the east are the cities of Hacienda Heights and La Habra Heights.
As with most largely residential towns in the U.S., Whittier’s largest employers are the local hospitals and school districts. Employees in Whittier hospitals often work long hours due to the daily demands of the patients who require reliable, professional care and monitoring when they become ill or injured. Nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, medical assistants and other hourly employees are often asked to work shifts of up to twelve hours in duration to make up for a shortage in staffing numbers. In such cases, the employees can rack up many hours of overtime and even double-time pay. Hospital employees in Whittier may violate the rights of these hourly employees, even if they pay the legally owed wage, by not allowing for or providing the mandated meal and rest periods, such as a second meal period of at least thirty minutes and a third paid rest break of at least ten minutes after the employee has worked more than ten hours. While a hospital is an often very busy place, the hourly-paid employees are entitled to these meal and rest breaks according to law. In fact, not strictly enforcing these rules, not providing these employees with sufficient breaks while on the job, might have a deleterious effect on patient care. A better-rested hospital employee is more focused, clearer of mind, and generally more capable of handling the time-sensitive and complex challenges of caring for a large number of patients. If you are not receiving all of the meal and rest periods you have the right to, contact our office for a consultation and review of your situation.