UPPER DARBY, PA – A federal court has ordered an Upper Darby home healthcare agency to pay $4,544,872 in back wages and liquidated damages after U.S. Department of Labor investigators found that the employer misclassified some workers as independent contractors, which denied 503 home health aides their rightfully earned overtime wages.
Following litigation of the case by the department’s Office of the Solicitor, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered a consent judgment on March 4 that requires Successful Aging Care Net Inc. and its owner Innocent Onwubiko to pay $2,272,436 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected workers. The court granted summary judgment to the department on several key issues previously, including finding Successful Aging and Onwubiko liable for overtime and recordkeeping violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Separate from the consent judgment, the employer – operating as Successful Aging – must also pay $152,439 in civil money penalties the department assessed for the willful nature of the violations
Investigators with Wage and Hour Division found that Successful Aging paid straight time instead of time-and-a-half to the misclassified aides for hours over 40 in a workweek. The employer also failed to pay overtime to other properly classified employees, both FLSA violations. Additionally, the employer failed to compensate workers for time spent traveling between locations where their clients resided and did not maintain records of their travel time. Following the investigation, the solicitor’s office filed the lawsuit against Successful Aging and Onwubiko.
“Every day, home healthcare workers provide essential services to people in need and their families. said Acting Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “The Wage and Hour Division works tirelessly to protect the rights of these essential workers to receive the wages they’ve earned, and to hold employers accountable when those rights are violated.”
“Misclassifying workers and failing to pay overtime wages violates the law, and it hurts workers and their families, especially those who rely on hourly wages to make ends meet,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “The U.S. Department of Labor will use every tool available, including litigation, to prevent employers from depriving workers of their wages and from gaining an unfair competitive advantage over employers who abide by the law.”
In addition to the back wages, liquidated damages and civil money penalties, the court’s judgement prohibits the employer from future FLSA violations.
The consent judgment follows an investigation by the division’s Philadelphia District Office and litigation by the Regional Solicitor’s Office in Philadelphia.
Founded in 2003, Successful Aging Care Net Inc. provides in home, non-medical healthcare and daily living assistance for adults, and nurse aide training at its Successful Aging Career Institute.
Learn more about misclassification of employees as independent contractors.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s 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. The division protects workers regardless of immigration status, and can communicate with workers in more than 200 languages.