- A group of Seattle-area adult home care providers paid more than $1 million in back wages, liquidated damages and civil money penalties after U.S. Department of Labor investigations found that the employers did not pay some workers full wages, DOL said in a Dec. 6 press release.
- In all, DOL reached administrative settlements with six employers in cases involving 77 care workers. The employers paid workers daily flat rates regardless of the hours they worked, DOL said, leading some to be paid less than the federal minimum wage and denied overtime pay.
- Separately, the employers failed to keep required records, according to DOL. The agency said that one Lakewood, Washington-based facility failed to maintain a record of hours worked and did not calculate wages on a workweek basis.
Under the Biden administration, DOL has honed in on care industry employers’ wage-and-hour violations. Since 2008, the agency has recovered millions in back pay every year; in its 2021 fiscal year, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $13.8 million in back wages owed to more than 17,000 employees.
Tuesday’s news comes just weeks after another high-dollar recovery for the department in Texas and Louisiana, where a group of four home healthcare agencies were found to have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime pay provisions.
“Since 2021, we’ve found violations in 80 percent of the more than 1,600 investigations we’ve completed in the care industry,” Thomas Silva, WHD’s district director for Seattle, said in a statement. “These probes have recovered more than $28.6 million in back wages and damages for 25,000 workers, and led to nearly $1.3 million in penalties for employers.”
Last summer, DOL officials addressed the issue of care industry wage and hour compliance in a webinar. The presentation covered a variety of work scenarios that may lead to trouble for employers, such as pre-shift working time, rest periods and meal breaks.
For example, covered employees who take a meal break of 30 minutes or more generally do not need to be compensated for that meal period. But if the employee is frequently interrupted by patients who request assistance during the course of the break, the employer may need to compensate the employee in that scenario.