HARRISBURG, PA – The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has approved a consent judgment ordering two central Pennsylvania nursing facilities to pay a total of $256,684 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 231 nursing staff for FLSA violations found during a federal review of the employer’s pay practices.
The consent judgment resolves the complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging overtime and recordkeeping violations. During the course of the litigation the employers consented to a judgment requiring them to pay a total of $513,368 to the affected employees. The litigation and judgment follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that revealed Spring Creek SNF LLC – operator of Spring Creek Rehab and Nursing Center in Harrisburg – and Franklin Center OPCO LLC – operator of Laurel Lakes Rehab and Wellness Center in Chambersburg – engaged in pay practices that violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Specifically, the employers paid non-discretionary bonuses to nursing staff but failed to include the incentives in their rate of pay when calculating overtime rates. The employers paid the bonuses for working particular shifts, picking up extra shifts and providing needed support during the pandemic. The investigation also revealed that the employers failed to maintain proper records of hours worked.
“Our investigation found a common and costly error employers make, the failure to include non-discretionary bonuses in an employee’s regular rate of pay when calculating overtime rates,” explained Wage and Hour District Director Alfonso Gristina in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “The Wage and Hour Division encourages employers to use the online tools and assistance we offer to avoid compliance issues, and reminds workers that they can contact us with questions about their wages and rates of pay.”
In addition to approving the consent judgment and ordering payment of $513,368, the court enjoined the employers from future FLSA violations.
In September 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 664,000 healthcare and social services workers left their positions and the field had more than 2 million openings. As the aging U.S. population grows and demand for home healthcare services increases, employment in a variety of healthcare sectors is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030 – faster than the average for all occupations – adding about 2.6 million new jobs.
“Today’s healthcare worker has the ability to choose an employer who values them, pays them full wages and respects their workplace rights. Employers who comply with labor laws and recognize the dignity of work will be more attractive to workers entering the workforce, making career moves, or looking for new opportunities,” Gristina emphasized.
“Other industry employers should use the outcome of this investigation and the court’s action as a reminder to review their pay practices to make sure they are complying with the law,” said Regional Solicitor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia. “The Department of Labor is determined to hold employers accountable for their violations and the consequences can be costly.”
For more information about the FLSA and other laws the division enforces, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions or concerns – regardless of where you are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android Timesheet App for free.