(The Center Square) – A federal court has ordered four assisted-living facilities to compensate workers for back pay and damages, the Department of Labor announced.
International Health Care Consultants Inc. will have to dole out $950,000 in back pay, damages, and penalties after a 2017 investigation determined 27 essential workers were not paid for wages that were legally earned. The lawsuit alleged the company showed little concern for its employees’ well-being as they served the needs of the elderly at four assisted-living facilities.
Last week, a consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland handed down its decision requiring the company to pay $466,642 and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the employees ending four years of litigation in the case. The company also has to pay $16,716 in penalties for overtime violations and mandates the employers from violating the Fair Labor Standards Act moving forward.
“The significant amount of money due to just 27 employees indicates that these employees worked very long hours, often with little or no sleep at all during their shifts. Employers must not be allowed to profit by unfairly paying its workers, whose hard work and commitment make them successful,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Nicholas Fiorello, in Baltimore, said in the release. “We remain steadfast in ensuring essential protections for essential workers, and providing clear, confidential compliance assistance to any worker or employer with questions.”
The department’s September 2017 investigation, according to the release, determined the company, owned by President Lois Peters and Frack Dickerson, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act at four group homes.
The investigation, the release reads, was conducted at Astoria House in Fulton, Astoria II in Columbia, Ashleigh’s Place in Columbia, and Golden Years Assisted Living in Mount Airy.
Employers paid caregivers and technicians less than the federal minimum wage, the investigation found, of $7.25 per hour, which is a direct labor violation. Some workers, according to the release, were paid $65 per day for 12 hours of work, equaling $5.42 per hour. Meanwhile, other employees were paid $80 per day for 12 hours of work, a wage of $6.67 per hour.
The investigation, according to the release, revealed overtime violations when employees put in more than 40 hours in a workweek.
“Our attorneys worked tirelessly for nearly four years of contentious litigation pursuing back wages, liquidated damages, and injunctive relief, to ensure these essential workers were paid all of their hard-earned wages,” Philadelphia Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III said in the release. “We held Peters, Dickerson, and IHCC accountable for willfully violating the law. This case serves as an example to other assisted-living employers that shortchanging wages comes at a high cost.”
The investigation also found, according to the release, that employees would work 24-hour shifts and were only paid for 12 hours. Also, it revealed, that the company didn’t provide adequate sleeping quarters and work during “leisure time.”
The company was aware it had to pay the required minimum wage and overtime but failed to do so while not following recordkeeping requirements for its employees.
The lawsuit was filed in 2018, following the investigation.