GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Every day, millions of careworkers tend to the vital needs of people in communities nationwide. They work long hours and put themselves at risk amid the pandemic, yet they are among the nation’s lowest paid workers. Their jobs are made even more difficult when employers fail to pay them all their rightfully earned wages.
Recent investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recovered $259,647 for 330 workers of two West Michigan employers whose pay practices denied the workers their full overtime wages and violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
At the Dobie Road-Ingham County Medical Care in Okemos, the division found the employer violated the FLSA’s overtime requirements for healthcare workers when it paid overtime after 12 hours per day instead of after 8 hours in day and 80 hours in a two-week pay period, whichever is greater. The investigation led to the recovery of $235,742 for 305 workers at the long-term residential and rehabilitation facility.
In Muskegon, at the main office of Martell & Company Home Care and Assistance LLC, investigators found the employer paid straight time instead of time-and-a-half the required rate of pay after 40 hours in a workweek. The employer also failed count spent traveling between worksites as hours worked and compensate workers for that time. Both actions led the division to assess overtime violations, and to recover $23,905 for 26 home healthcare workers in Muskegon and Martell & Company’s Grand Rapids branch office.
“Today’s commemoration of National Caregivers Day reminds us of the important work that the nation’s healthcare workers do for us and for the community as a whole,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Mary O’Rourke in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “We owe these workers our gratitude and the Wage and Hour Division will hold accountable those employers who fail to pay employees their fair and rightfully earned wages.”
“Failure to pay overtime accurately is a common violation, especially in healthcare. These practices can affect an employer’s ability to recruit and retain needed workers. When workers are not paid the wages they have earned, especially under the stresses caused by the pandemic, they may look for work elsewhere.”
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. These trends indicate that industry employers will find it more difficult to recruit and retain without being highly competitive and ensuring compliance with law governing workers’ rights.
“Healthcare workers are in great demand and facing record burnout,” added O’Rourke. “Healthcare employers whose pay practices comply with the law have a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining workers. Employers unsure about their legal obligations should contact the U.S. Department of Labor to prevent costly violations and be able to compete as an employer.”
From 2019 to 2021, the Wage and Hour Division recovered $3.5 million for Michigan’s healthcare workers.
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). Calls can be received confidentially in over 200 languages. 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.