Federal court orders Christian Home Healthcare to pay more than 500 workers $1.6M in back wages, damages
PITTSBURGH – A U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh has issued a consent order requiring the payment of more than $1.6 million in back wages and damages to 546 home health aides. The Pittsburgh home health care agency misclassified the aides as independent contractors and failed to pay required overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court also ordered payment of $20,000 in civil money penalties.
The court’s action follows an investigation of Christian Home Healthcare Corp., operating as Christian Home Healthcare in Pittsburgh, by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. The court ordered Christian Home Healthcare Corp. and its owner, India Christian, to pay $812,675 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected home health aides. Due to the willful nature of the violations, the court also ordered the company to pay civil money penalties.
Investigators determined that Christian Home Health Care violated the FLSA when the employer:
- Misclassified 546 home health aides as independent contractors instead of employees, and then failed to pay them overtime when they worked over 40 hours per week.
- Continued to pay some aides straight-time rates for overtime hours, even after it began to classify them correctly as employees.
- Failed to keep a record of the number of hours worked by office staff.
“Health care workers risk their lives every day to care for our loved ones, and remain on the front lines keeping our country healthy and safe. They deserve to be paid every cent they have earned,” said Wage and Hour Division Principal Deputy Administrator Jessica Looman. “Failing to pay employees as the law requires hurts workers and puts law-abiding employers at a competitive disadvantage. We encourage other employers in this industry to evaluate their own pay practices to ensure they comply with the law, and avoid violations like these.”
“A federal court agreed with our most basic tenet that workers are entitled to all the wages they have rightfully earned,” said Deputy Solicitor of Labor Elena Goldstein. “Intentionally denying workers their hard-earned wages is unacceptable. This case’s outcome shows our commitment to using all the tools we have available, including the courts, to ensure that employers are held accountable and that workers take home their hard-earned pay.”
The Wage and Hour Division offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law. Employers and workers are encouraged to visit our website or contact the Wage and Hour Division toll-free at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information.