Federal court orders Philadelphia home healthcare agency to pay more than $430K in back wages, damages, penalties after federal investigation
PHILADELPHIA – A federal court has ordered a Philadelphia home healthcare staffing agency and its owner to pay nearly $410,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 43 employees after U.S. Department of Labor investigators found that the employer misclassified workers as independent contractors.
On March 14, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania entered a consent judgment that requires Lady of Fatima Health Services Inc. – operating as Lady of Fatima Healthcare Services – and its owner Fatmata Turray to pay $204,110 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected employees. The employer must also pay $22,295 in civil money penalties for the repeat and willful nature of the violations.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Lady of Fatima Health Services violated the Fair Labor Standards Act when it misclassified some home health care workers as independent contractors and paid them straight time for all hours worked. The agency also failed to combine hours worked, both when an employee cared for more than one patient in a pay period and when full-time office employees also performed home health services within the same pay period, and did not include on-call earnings in the computation of overtime rates of pay.
“Home care workers continue to deliver critical services on the pandemic’s frontlines. These workers provide people with vital assistance and help them meet basic daily needs. Without these services, many would not be able to live at home,” said Wage and Hour District Director James Cain in Philadelphia. “This work is essential and it is essential that home care workers receive all of the wages they are due.”
In addition to the back wages, liquidated damages and civil money penalties, the court’s judgement orders the employer to comply with the FLSA in the future.
“This enforcement action goes a long way in ensuring that home care workers working for Lady of Fatima Health Services receive all of their hard-earned wages, including overtime pay,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Oscar L. Hampton III in Philadelphia. “Employers simply cannot call an employee an independent contractor to circumvent their overtime obligations under the law.”
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.