Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
ABILENE, Texas -- Sears Methodist Retirement System Inc. has agreed to pay $167,805 in back wages to 318 vocational nurses and aides employed at three facilities in Abilene following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that uncovered violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions.
“This company took advantage of its employees by not paying them for all hours worked,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Health care workers are among the lowest-paid employees in the nation, and this employer profited by paying these vulnerable employees less than they were legally due under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division’s Abilene Field Office found that the company deducted one hour from employees’ pay for lunch periods, even though employees took only half-hour breaks for lunch. Because these unpaid hours were not included in employees’ total time worked, overtime hours – those worked beyond 40 in a week – were not correctly calculated or compensated. Back wages also were found due to one employee because illegal deductions had been made for uniforms that caused the employee’s pay to fall below the federal minimum wage. Finally, the employer failed to maintain accurate time records.
Investigators found violations at the Wesley Court Methodist Retirement Community, Mesa Springs Retirement Village and Health Care Center, and Windcrest Alzheimer Care Center.
In addition to paying all back wages owed, Sears Methodist Retirement System has agreed to comply fully with the FLSA in the future.
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) or the division’s Dallas District Office at 817-861-2150. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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