Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $84,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for 10 workers employed by Healthy Solutions Home Health Services LLC. The suit resulted from an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that found the employer had misclassified employees as independent contractors, resulting in violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime pay provisions. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, also seeks to permanently enjoin the company and owner Joanna Ochieng from future FLSA violations.
"Employers like Healthy Solutions cannot evade their responsibilities under the FLSA by misclassifying employees as independent contractors," said Karen Chaikin, acting regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Midwest. "The Labor Department is committed to seeing that these workers receive their proper pay and will use all enforcement tools available, including litigation against companies and their officers, to recover workers' wages and ensure a level playing field for law-abiding employers."
Because they were misclassified, employees were denied minimum wage and overtime compensation required by the FLSA. The investigation also found that travel time between work sites was neither recorded nor counted toward hours worked, those hours worked beyond 40 in a week were paid at straight time rates instead of time and one-half employees' regular rates of pay, and proper payroll records were not maintained.
The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries such as health care that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and in which the Wage and Hour Division historically has found significant wage violations. The practice is a serious threat to employees, who often are denied access to critical benefits and protections, as well as to law-abiding employers who have a difficult time competing against those who circumvent the law. The Department of Labor is committed to ensuring that employees receive the pay and benefits to which they are legally entitled, and employers who play by the rules are not placed at an unfair disadvantage.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular hourly rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, the law requires employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records, and prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
The case is being litigated by the department's regional solicitor in Cleveland. For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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