WHD News Release: [01/24/2013]
Contact Name: Michael D’Aquino
Phone Number: (404) 562-2076
Release Number: 12-2375-ATL
US Labor Department initiative combats widespread labor violations in North Carolina’s residential care industry
Wage and Hour Division continues outreach and education efforts to increase compliance
RALEIGH, N.C. An ongoing enforcement initiative conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division that focuses on the residential care industry in North Carolina has found widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions, particularly among group home facilities in the counties of Buncombe, Cumberland, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake.
The residential care industry includes group homes, board and care facilities, and other businesses providing residential care for the sick, the aged and individuals with limited self-care abilities. Facilities that have at least two employees are subject to the FLSA.
Since 2009, the division's North Carolina District Office conducted 200 investigations of residential care facilities within its jurisdiction, resulting in approximately $2.1 million in back wages for 1,800 employees who were denied fair compensation for all hours worked. The division also conducted 16 outreach sessions under this initiative in 2012, providing FLSA education and compliance assistance to hundreds of employers, employees and stakeholders throughout North Carolina.
Common violations found include failing to pay for work performed outside an employee's scheduled shift or time spent attending staff meetings and trainings; deducting eight-hour sleep periods from shifts of fewer than 24 hours; paying employees a flat salary without regard to overtime; and making illegal deductions for uniforms and other items that cause workers' wages to fall below the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25.
"Through ongoing collaborations with key stakeholders such as Local Management Entities and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services agencies that monitor or have influence over the business practices of residential care providers we are providing meaningful compliance assistance to employers and are making a positive impact in this industry," said Richard Blaylock, the Wage and Hour Division's district director in Raleigh. "Our ongoing initiative seeks to protect some of the most vulnerable workers in this country against labor violations and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers who play by the rules and pay fair wages. We invite employees, employers and stakeholder organizations to contact us for more information and to help us strengthen labor law compliance in North Carolina's residential care industry."
Under the initiative, investigators will visit residential care facilities, such as adult care homes, assisted living and group homes, throughout North Carolina, to assess compliance among facility owners, independent and multi-unit operators, third-party management companies and other businesses associated with these establishments. Investigators will conduct thorough reviews of employment practices and payroll records, as well as employee interviews, to ensure compliance with all applicable labor standards. When violations are found, the division will pursue corrective action, including litigation, civil money penalties and liquidated damages, to recover workers' wages and ensure accountability under the law.
The division is conducting outreach to inform workers of their rights under federal labor laws, and is contacting community organizations, faith-based groups, local and state agencies, and other stakeholders to engage their participation in promoting compliance. The division is also providing FLSA compliance assistance and education to employers and industry associations.
If your organization would benefit from FLSA worker's rights training or compliance assistance training in the area of residential care, please contact the division's North Carolina District Office for more information at 919-790-2741.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. In general, hours worked includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
A fact sheet on the FLSA as it relates to the health care industry is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs53.pdf.
The department has a smart phone application to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. Available in English and Spanish, users can conveniently track regular work hours, break time and any overtime hours for one or more employers. This new technology is significant because, instead of solely relying on their employers' records, workers can now keep their own records. This and other Labor Department apps are available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
Information about the Act is also available by contacting the Wage and Hour Division's North Carolina District Office at 919-790-2742. Additionally, information about all of the federal wage laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division is available in English and Spanish by calling the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), as well as online at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.