US Department of Labor recovers $221K in back wages, damages for nursing staff after re-investigation again finds violations at treatment facility
LAUREL RUN, PA – An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor recovered $221,307 in back wages and damages for 32 nursing staff employees of a Luzerne County treatment center found to be intentionally shortchanging workers of their overtime pay repeatedly.
A consent judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Feb. 18, 2022, ordered payment of the back wages and liquidated damages by defendants Banyan Treatment Center LLC, Wilkes-Barre Treatment LLC which operates as Clearbrook Treatment Center in Laurel Run, and Banyan’s Vice President of Human Resources Joseph Bozza. The court’s action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that determined the employer manually deducted a 30-minute break from nurses unable to take their lunch breaks. By doing so, the employer failed to pay full wages to the affected workers.
In addition to the back wages and liquidated damages, the court ordered Clearbrook to pay a $33,184 civil money penalty, assessed by the department due to the repeat and willful nature of the violations. A 2019 investigation by the division found the treatment center committed similar violations.
“Caregiving employees often respond to emergencies, answer phones or monitor public facing posts during their meal breaks. The time they spend doing so is time worked and they must be paid for that time,” explained Wage and Hour District Director Alfonso Gristina in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “Clearbrook Treatment Center’s staff provide their clients with essential services and they deserve to be paid all of their hard-earned wages. The Wage and Hour Division will not tolerate willful violations of workers’ rights.”
“This consent judgment will help to ensure that employees are paid for all of the hours they work, and that employers who violate the law are held accountable,” said Adam Welsh, Counsel for Wage and Hour with the department’s Office of the Solicitor in Philadelphia.
Owned by Banyan Treatment Center in Pompano Beach, Florida, Clearbrook Treatment Center provides inpatient drug rehabilitation services at locations in Laurel Run and in Winchendon, Massachusetts. Banyan Treatment Center operates 14 locations in California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Texas.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. The division protects workers regardless of immigration status and can communicate with workers in more than 200 languages.