Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.
Department initiative finds $413K in back wages for nearly 400 workers
TAMPA, Fla. – Assisted living facilities are often judged by how well they care for their patients – but how well are they caring for their workers?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division launched an initiative in 2015 to evaluate how well the adult assisted living facility industry in Central Florida complied with federal labor law requirements to pay workers their legally-required wages, including minimum wage and overtime. The education and enforcement effort focused on licensed facilities within Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota and Sumter counties, determining if workers were paid in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act .
In nearly 100 investigations in 2015, the division’s Tampa District Office found more than $413,000 in unpaid wages owed to 367 former and current employees. These investigations revealed a high level of noncompliance in the industry, prompting the division to collaborate with the Florida Department of Health’s Agency for Health Care Administration. The arrangement makes it easier to share information, helping the division to refer cases to the licensing agency for additional enforcement action, which may even result in license suspension.
“Our goal for this strategic initiative is to move the entire assisted living facility industry into compliance, not just the facilities we investigate. We will continue to use all of the tools and resources available to us to protect workers and create a level playing field for law-abiding employers,” said James Schmidt, director of the division’s Tampa District Office. “We are excited about our partnership with the state of Florida, and the results that we are seeing. Workers in this industry work long, hard hours, and deserve to take home every penny they rightfully earn.”
As an industry, assisted living facilities often use employment arrangements – such as subcontracting, and third-party management – that can obscure the worker-employer relationship, often at the expense of workers’ wages. Under these arrangements, violations of the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions may become more likely, as the distance between those performing the work and those profiting from it increases. The division’s fact sheet on the industry’s common pay practices explains the types of violations that often result, including the improper rounding of employees’ hours, failure to pay for travel time or on-call time, and failure to pay employees for time worked off the clock.
In addition to conducting investigations, the division conducts outreach events as part of the initiative for employers and industry stakeholders to provide compliance assistance and information on legal rights and responsibilities. The outreach also raises awareness among workers, community organizations and others regarding federal wage and hour laws and protections.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records and to comply with the hours worked requirements.
For more information about the FLSA and wage laws or to file a complaint, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), the Tampa District Office at 813-288-1242, or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/.