Federal court requires Philadelphia home care agency, owner to pay $410K in back wages, damages after investigation, litigation
PHILADELPHIA – A federal court has entered a consent judgment requiring a Philadelphia home care agency and its owner to pay more than $410,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 55 employees after an investigation and litigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The action by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that determined Alma Conway Home Care LLC and its owner Sara Tucker paid some home care workers straight-time rates of pay for all hours worked — including for hours over 40 in a workweek — denying them the required overtime rates. The division also learned the company employed a scheme to manipulate wage rates.
Specifically, Alma Conway Home Care LLC lowered employees’ regular hourly rates when they worked overtime hours, which caused them to be paid less than their required overtime rates and made employee payroll records inaccurate.
After the employers refused to resolve their Fair Labor Standards Act violations by paying the back wages and damages due, the department’s Office of the Solicitor filed a complaint in November 2022. On March 29, 2023, the court entered a consent judgment that requires payment of $205,434 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected workers. The judgment also requires the payment of $25,740 in civil money penalties for the intentional nature of the employers’ violations. The order also forbids the home care agency from future FLSA violations.
“Alma Conway Home Care employees provide essential services on which people in our community depend. These hardworking people deserve respect and to be paid all of their legally earned wages,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jim Cain, in Philadelphia. “Our investigation found the employers disregarded the law willfully and used pay practices that harmed their own employees.”
The division’s Philadelphia District Office conducted the investigation. Trial Attorney Erik Unger with the department’s Office of the Solicitor in Philadelphia litigated the case and secured the judgment.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will hold employers who fail to comply willfully with the Fair Labor Standards Act legally accountable,” said Deputy Regional Solicitor Samantha Thomas. “The outcome of this investigation and litigation should send a clear signal to other home healthcare industry employers that we will not tolerate employees being shortchanged by illegal pay practices.”
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,” Cain 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.”
As part of its ongoing education and enforcement initiative to improve home care industry compliance, the Wage and Hour Division will present a free webinar, “Worker Rights in the Homecare Industry” on May 4 from 3 - 4:30 p.m. EDT. While attendance is free, registration is necessary.
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.
Civil Action No. 2:22-cv-04569-WB