Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
HOUSTON -- Harris County Hospital District, doing business as Harris Health System in Houston, has agreed to pay more than $4 million in back wages and liquidated damages to 4,573 technicians and current and former nurses after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions.
An investigation conducted by the division’s Houston District Office found that Harris Health System did not include the workers’ incentive pay when calculating overtime premiums. Because of that, Harris Health System failed to pay workers the correct overtime rate when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. Additionally, the employer failed to maintain proper records of weekly hours worked by some of its employees.
The affected employees worked as nurses, lab technicians, respiratory care practitioners, X-ray technicians, medical technologists, registered pharmacy technicians, eligibility auditors and security officers.
“The investigation by the department revealed systemic wage violations throughout Harris Health System’s 46 locations,” said Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division’s regional administrator for the Southwest. “We are pleased that thousands of hard-working employees will finally be paid their rightful overtime premiums and that this employer has agreed to take steps to prevent such violations from occurring in the future.”
Harris Health System provides emergency, outpatient and inpatient medical and health care services in the Houston area. The company has agreed to set up measures to comply fully with the FLSA in the future. Payment of back wages and liquidated damages is ongoing.
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. Employers are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees
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 Houston District Office at 713-339-5500. Information is also 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.