LANSDOWNE, PA – Nearly 400 home healthcare workers, employed in an industry rife with overtime violations, will receive the wages they are owed after the U.S. Department of Labor obtained a consent judgment ordering a Philadelphia-area agency and its owners to pay them more than $2.3 million. A federal investigation found the employer willfully shortchanged employees’ hard-earned overtime wages.
Following an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division and litigation by its Office of the Solicitor, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered a judgment on Jan. 24, 2023, requiring Affectionate Home Health Care Services LLC in Lansdowne and owners Ashford B. Sonii and Habibatu K. Dumbar to pay $1,176,883 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 398 home healthcare workers.
“Home healthcare workers provide essential services to people who depend greatly on their care, and these workers deserve to be fairly and fully compensated,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “The Wage and Hour Division will vigorously protect the workplace rights and dignity of these workers and ensure employers fulfill their obligation to comply with federal labor laws.”
Division investigators determined the company, operating as Affectionate Home Health Care, paid straight time for overtime hours worked, paid an arbitrary rate less than the time-and-a-half overtime rate required by law for hours over 40 in a workweek or used a combination of the two illegal pay practices. They also found the employer did not separate straight-time hours worked from overtime hours and failed to record the proper hourly rates in overtime work weeks accurately. These actions violated the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In addition to paying back wages and damages, Affectionate Home Health Care Services LLC must also pay a $219,099 civil money penalty assessed by the division for the willful nature of the violations.
Following the division’s investigation, the department filed a complaint on Sept. 30, 2022, alleging overtime and recordkeeping violations. Soon after the legal discovery process began and the employer was required to provide the department with additional documents and other information, the employer agreed to the consent judgment.
“By initiating litigation, the U.S. Department of Labor made it clear to the employer that we were serious about protecting their employees’ rights and making sure they would receive their rightfully owed wages,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “When employers willfully disregard the law and deny employees’ wages, we will hold them legally accountable, including by seeking civil money penalties.”
Affectionate Home Health Care Services LLC provides non-skilled nursing care to clients who reside in their own homes and need assistance with daily living activities.
The division’s Philadelphia District Office conducted the investigation. Trial Attorney Sharon McKenna with the department’s Regional Solicitor in Philadelphia litigated the case and secured the judgment.
In fiscal year 2022, the division recovered $14.9 million in back wages for more than 22,000 workers in the healthcare industry, where low wages and high rates of violations are common. As the U.S. population ages 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 million new jobs.
“Hardworking healthcare workers will choose to work for employers who value them, pay them full wages and respect their rights,” Looman added. “Employers who comply with labor law and appreciate the dignity of work will have a clear advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining workers.”
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 learn if you are owed back wages collected by the division.
Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free.