Federal court orders Chesapeake home healthcare company, owners to pay $1.5M in back wages, damages after investigation, litigation
CHESAPEAKE, VA – A Chesapeake home healthcare company and its owners must pay more than $1.5 million – $759,698 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages – to 194 employees after the U.S. Department of Labor obtained a summary judgment in federal court.
Entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, the judgment follows a complaint filed in September 2020 and litigation by the department’s Office of the Solicitor. The court required that Kynd Hearts Home Health Care LLC and its co-owners, Shawndell D. Harris and Alvonda Evans to pay the back wages and liquidated damages for willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The judgment upholds the results of an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that specifically found Kynd Hearts Home Health Care LLC:
- Failed to pay certain non-exempt employees the proper overtime premium and instead paid straight time for hours over 40 in some workweeks.
- Developed a pay scheme to reduce employees’ hourly rates the more hours employees worked and then paid an overtime rate based on the reduced hourly rate, not the regular hourly rate.
- Failed to show total premium pay for all overtime hours worked in a workweek in its payroll records.
In a prior investigation in 2014, the department’s Wage and Hour Division found the employer’s pay practices violated the FLSA.
“The Wage and Hour Division investigated Kynd Hearts Home Health Care and its co-owners in 2014 and found overtime violations. The employers knew their obligations to pay proper overtime rates and yet, they willfully disregarded the law and denied workers all of their hard-earned wages,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “That is wage theft, and it will not be tolerated.”
Given the intentional nature of the violations, the department assessed a civil money penalty of $226,512.
In addition to the back wages and damages payment, the judgment permanently forbids the employers from future FLSA violations.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will hold employers who repeatedly and willfully fail to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act legally accountable,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “Other home healthcare industry employers should take note and ensure that they are paying their employees in compliance with the law.”
The division’s Richmond District Office conducted the investigation. The department’s Office of the Solicitor in Arlington, Virginia, litigated the case and secured the judgment.
In fiscal year 2022, the division recovered $14.9 million in back wages for more than 22,000 workers in the healthcare industry, where low wages and high rates of violations are common. As the U.S. population ages and demand for home healthcare services increases, employment in a variety of healthcare sectors is projected to grow 13 percent from 2021 to 2031 – faster than the average for all occupations – adding about 2 million new jobs.
“Hardworking healthcare workers will choose to work for employers who value them, pay them full wages and respect their rights,” Looman added. “Employers who comply with labor law and appreciate the dignity of work will have a clear advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining workers.”
For more information about the FLSA and other laws the division enforces, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division.
Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free.