Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking back wages and damages for 89 current and former workers of Northridge Health Center in North Ridgeville, plus civil money penalties. Defendants named include the facility’s operator, Altercare Inc., and director Robert Wickes.
The suit resulted from an investigation of the long-term care facility conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which found that back wages totaling $60,909 are owed to health-care workers due to violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Liquidated damages equal to the amount of back wages owed also are being sought for the workers. As a result of the repeated violations, the department has assessed civil money penalties totaling $62,411.
“One of the most common violations in the residential-care industry is the failure of employers to pay properly for all hours worked,” said George Victory, district director of the Wage and Hour Division in Columbus. “Residential caregivers work long hours and often make significant personal sacrifices to provide around-the-clock care for their clients. These workers deserve to be paid properly, and the resolution of this case should remind employers that the Labor Department will not hesitate to investigate, and to litigate, if they deny workers their rightful pay.”
The investigation determined that Northridge Health Center wrongly classified three salaried employees as exempt from overtime and, consequently, failed to pay the required overtime compensation. Additionally, the company failed to include nondiscretionary bonuses or incentive pay in employees’ regular rates when computing overtime, and automatically deducted 30-minute meal periods regardless of whether employees received a break. The health center also failed to maintain accurate records of hours worked and used improper rounding practices when recording work time.
This was the third investigation of the Northridge Health Center in the past six years. In 2006, an investigation disclosed overtime violations resulting in $8,404 in back wages recovered for 76 employees. In 2008, the company was found to owe $4,785 in back wages to 54 employees for overtime violations, and civil money penalties of $11,800 were assessed for the repeat violations in that case.
Altercare Inc. is headquartered in North Canton and operates 16 nursing care and rehabilitation facilities in Ohio.
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 rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 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.
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 at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.