URBANA, IL – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a federal court order requiring an Illinois home healthcare provider to pay 69 workers $1.1 million in back wages and damages for its failure to pay these workers for all hours worked.
On Feb. 7, 2023, U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce for the Central District of Illinois in Urbana issued an order finding Lee A. McDevitt – owner and operator of Midwest Home Care in Mattoon – liable for back wages and damages. The court dismissed McDevitt’s claim that they were not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act because they operated solely within Illinois. The court also found the department could protect the identities of employees who cooperated with the investigator and litigation.
The court’s action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that found McDevitt paid a daily rate to workers employed as caregivers, the majority of whom worked 24-hour shifts, regardless of the number of hours they worked, resulting in minimum wage and overtime violations. The caregivers provided in-home healthcare and assisted living services to clients across Mattoon, Champaign and Tuscola.
The investigation determined that the employer owed the affected workers $562,389 in back wages and assessed an equal amount of liquidated damages.
The court also ruled McDevitt violated the FLSA’s recordkeeping requirements by failing to track an employee’s hours worked, including sleep time interruptions, accurately. By failing to do so, Midwest Home Care’s sleep credit was invalid. The court also forbid McDevitt from future FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping violations.
“Home healthcare workers who provide around-the-clock care provide people unable to care for themselves with the dignity they deserve and offer family members some peace of mind,” explained Principal Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division Jessica Looman. “The Wage and Hour Division often finds workers in this industry – among our nation’s lowest paid – victimized by employers’ wage violations.”
“This judgment is an important step toward making sure 69 caregivers are paid fully for their hard work and raise awareness of how common these wage violations are,” Looman added.
Following the department’s investigation, McDevitt and Home Health Care changed their payroll practices effective Jan. 4, 2021, and began paying workers on an hourly basis and computing overtime for hours over 40 in a workweek.
“The court’s favorable rulings on a number of issues related to what evidence can be used, including accepting confidential employee statements as evidence upholds the Department of Labor’s use of the informer’s privilege to protect employees during discovery,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “The resolution of this matter shows that the U.S. Department of Labor will take all necessary actions, including litigation, to hold employers accountable when they fail to respect worker rights and protections.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2021, the average home healthcare aide earned $29,430 per year, about $14.15 an hour. As of November 2022, healthcare and social assistance industry had more than 1.9 million open jobs nationwide.
The Wage and Hour Division offers resources on wages rules for healthcare workers.
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 and how to file an online complaint. For confidential compliance assistance, employees and employers can call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), regardless of where they are from.
Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
Walsh v. Lee A. McDevitt d/b/a Midwest Health Care
U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Urbana Division