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Nursing Homes and Residential Care Facilities Hit With Overtime Claims
This month the United States Department of Labor reported that from 2011 to 2014 it recovered more than $6.8 million in overtime and unpaid minimum wages for more than 1300 employees in Bay Area nursing homes and residential care facilities.
Working conditions in some residential care facilities can be difficult for many caregivers. Many of the facilities require employees to stay overnight on the premises to ensure round-the-clock care for patients. Despite the fact that they are on call assisting residents overnight, investigators found that some workers were not paid for such time, and some were denied adequate sleeping facilities and were forced to sleep on the floor. Such conditions can erode the quality of care patients receive.
Additionally, investigators found that employees who are paid hourly often worked 10 to 14 hours per day, six days per week, but were only paid for eight hours per day. Some workers were paid a flat weekly salary regardless of the hours they worked and were therefore denied time and one-half pay for hours worked beyond 40 per workweek. Employees were also threatened and harassed if they questioned their working conditions. Some employees were intimidated or retaliated against by their employers and were instructed not to cooperate with Wage and Hour investigators.
Investigations completed in the past year reflect the disturbing trend in violations. These include:
• The owners of Retirement Plus of San Carlos and four other Bay-Area facilities paid its caregivers as little as $5 per hour and misclassified one employee as an independent contractor. The employer paid more than $630,000 in minimum wage, overtime and damages to resolve the case.
Lake Alhambra Assisted Living Center violated a protective order prohibiting retaliation against caregivers for cooperating with the investigation. Ultimately, the business paid $304,000 in back wages and damages to 32 caregivers, plus $25,000 in civil money penalties, as ordered in a consent judgment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The order also included the appointment of an independent monitor to ensure the business pays its workers properly in the future.
Anne's Guest Home, which operates six facilities in Pleasanton and Livermore, was found in violation of the minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping provisions of the FLSA. The company paid some workers below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and failed to pay overtime at time and one-half for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The firm was ordered to pay more than $447,000 in back wages and damages in a consent judgment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Farol's Residential Care Home paid caregivers salaries below the minimum wage in many cases and did not pay overtime when employees worked over 40 hours per week. The business was ordered to pay a total of $405,284 in back wages, damages, interest and penalties in a consent judgment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Twenty-seven workers will receive back wages in this settlement.
• Vicky Rebecca Quedado, doing business as We Care ICF/DD-H and Becker Home Inc. of Northern California, operates three intermediate residential-care facilities and will pay $261,356 in back wages and liquidated damages to 21 low-wage workers for violations of the FLSA. The division found that the business paid the workers flat salaries for all hours worked instead of paying them overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, as the law requires.
The FLSA, which the Wage and Hour Division enforces, requires that covered, nonexempt workers be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus one and one-half times their regular wages for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
Don Phin, Esq. is VP of Strategic Business Solutions at ThinkHR, which helps companies resolve urgent workforce issues, mitigate risk and ensure HR compliance. Phin has more than three decades of experience as an HR expert, published author and speaker, and spent 17 years in employment practices litigation. For more information, visit www.ThinkHR.com.
William Jordan
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