COLUMBUS, OH– Home healthcare workers assist their clients with daily living tasks and even stay overnight at their homes to provide around-the-clock care. Despite their essential labor, these workers are sometimes denied all their rightful wages by their employer’s illegal pay practices, as federal investigators found in a recent labor investigation in Columbus.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division reviewed the pay practices of 1st Choice Family Services Inc. and found the employer failed to pay overtime to some workers paid on a salary basis. The employer paid “straight time” for hours over 8 in a day or 80 hours in a two-week pay period when, by law, healthcare workers should have been paid time and one-half their normal rate of pay. 1st Choice also failed to record overnight care providers’ sleep hours as hours worked, as required. These actions denied affected workers their full overtime wages and violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The division’s investigation led to the recovery of $603,882 for 119 workers employed by 1st Choice Family Services Inc. at its Columbus headquarters and at locations in Reynoldsburg and Findlay.
“Home healthcare workers provide vital services and perform basic living tasks for those unable to care for themselves. They help their clients and their families maintain their dignity in challenging circumstances,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Marcy Boldman in Des Moines, Iowa. “As industry employers struggle to find people to fill the jobs needed to remain competitive, they must take into account that retaining and recruiting workers is more difficult when employers fail to respect workers’ rights and pay them their full wages.”
From 2019 to 2021, Wage and Hour Division investigations recovered more than $22.7 million for Midwest healthcare workers because of violations of worker protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
To help employers understand common industry compliance issues, the Wage and Hour Division is hosting a virtual Midwest Care Givers Summit on March 23 from 9 to 11 a.m. CDT. Register to attend.
In December 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 679,000 healthcare and social services workers left their positions. 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.
The department’s essential workers, essential protections initiative focuses resources on educating essential care workers and their communities about their rights to minimum wage and overtime pay and how to file a complaint if they believe their rights have been violated. The initiative also targets misclassification of workers as independent contractors, an illegal practice that may deprive workers of legally earned wages, and other protections.
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.