DETROIT – A federal investigation has found the operator of three Detroit-area residential nursing centers’ pay practices denied 45 managers their full and proper wages by regularly alternating the managers’ status from hourly to salary in an attempt to evade overtime obligations.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recovered $69,022 in back wages and damages owed to managers at Beaconshire Nursing Center, Westwood Nursing Center and Chesaning Nursing Center – all owned and operated by Amee Patel – after finding the employer paid the managers hourly wages when they worked fewer than 40 hours in workweek and paid salaried wages when they exceeded 40 hours. By regularly alternating the managers’ status from hourly to salary, Patel voided their claim that the managers were overtime exempt.
The division assessed and received payment of $7,938 in civil money penalties for the employer’s repeat violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2018, federal investigators found Patel violated overtime regulations when she failed to pay drivers for all their travel and wait times. In 2015, Patel failed to pay employees for attending mandatory trainings.
“Business operators cannot casually decide to pay workers as salaried in some weeks and hourly in others. By doing so, Amee Patel clearly violated federal laws by denying workers at her healthcare facilities all their hard-earned pay,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director Timolin Mitchell in Detroit. “Caregivers employed in the residential care industry provide our family members and neighbors with vital support, therapy and daily living assistance. The owner of these Detroit area nursing centers’ put her bottom line before the needs of healthcare workers, making it more difficult for them to care for themselves and their families.”
In total, the division recovered $17,173 in back wages for 12 Beaconshire Nursing Center employees, $14,205 in back wages for 21 employees at Westwood Nursing Center and $3,133 in back wages for 12 employees at Chesaning Nursing Center. The employer also paid an equal amount in liquidated damages, for a total of $69,022. All the facilities provide skilled nursing, physical and occupational therapy.
In fiscal year 2022, the Detroit district office recovered nearly $2.2 million in back wages and liquated damages for almost 3,000 workers in Eastern Michigan, of which nearly $500,000 was owed to healthcare workers.
“Overtime violations are all-too-common in the healthcare industry. Today’s workers are looking for employers who value them, pay their full wages and guarantee their workplace rights. Employers who comply with labor laws and appreciate the dignity of work will have the greatest appeal to new workers or those looking for new opportunities,” Mitchell added.
In December 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 744,000 healthcare and social services workers left their positions and the field had nearly two 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 13 percent from 2021 to 2031 – faster than the average for all occupations – adding about 2.6 million new jobs.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the division’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. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for Android devices to ensure hours and pay are accurate.