NEW ORLEANS – Two U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigations found that a nursing care operator with multiple southern Louisiana facilities violated the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The division’s New Orleans District Office found Baton Rouge-based Louisiana Health Care Consultants required employees to purchase medical scrubs, but failed to reimburse them for the cost which dropped the employees’ earnings below the federal minimum wage in the weeks they made the purchases.
Investigators also identified overtime violations at all six locations. Specifically, the employer failed to combine employees’ hours when they worked at more than one of the company’s facilities during the same workweek. This practice results in workers receiving payment at only straight time rates for overtime hours, another FLSA violation. The division also found LHCC failed to keep required records.
“Minimum wage and overtime violations like these are all too common in the health care industry and many other industries,” said Betty Campbell, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Employers have an obligation to fully understand the laws pertaining to fair and legal compensation of their workers. These employees worked long, hard hours on behalf of this employer, and now they’re finally getting the pay they deserve. We will continue to use every enforcement tool available to us to ensure that workers like these take home every penny they have earned.”
The division’s investigation covered LHCC’s nursing homes are Maison De’Ville Nursing Home of Harvey LLC and Elizabeth Caring LLC in Harvey, Maison De’Ville Nursing Home Inc. in Houma, Uptown Healthcare Center LLC in New Orleans, Plaquemine Manor Nursing Home Inc. in Plaquemine and Raceland Manor Nursing Home Inc. in Raceland.
As a result of the investigation, the employer paid $88,146 in back wages and liquidated damages to 161 employees and $31,328 in civil money penalties. LHCC also signed an agreement to prevent future minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping violations through added measures, including:
- Creating a company intranet where employees may complete required state training during work hours.
- Instituting a policy to prevent employees from working at another LHCC location without consent of management. If an employee does work at two or more locations, the employer agrees to combine the employee’s hours worked in each work week for the purpose of computing overtime.
- Ceasing to require workers earning $8.50 or less per hour to wear uniform scrubs for the first 30 days of employment. Employees will receive a $100 stipend for uniforms on their second paycheck and each subsequent year to cover the price of uniforms.
- Providing training to employees at all six locations on the FLSA and how to report possible violations to the company and or the department.
- Reviewing employees’ time records quarterly to ensure compliance with the Act. Records will be made available to the department.
- Noting adjustments to time records and keep them for three years.
The Wage and Hour Division continues to conduct investigations in low-wage industries where data and evidence show high rates of non-compliance, and where workers are less likely to complain. Both education and enforcement continue in the health care industry in which a high violation rate exists.
For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its New Orleans District Office at 504-589-6171. Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.