Labor Department obtains judgment to recover $162K in back wages, damages from Reading assisted living facility for 20 employees denied full wages
Employer name: Morris-Pace Assisted Living Inc., operating as Morris-Pace Personal Care Home, and located at 416 Reading Ave., Reading, Pennsylvania 19611
Court action: Consent judgment obtained on July 3, 2023, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the Department of Labor.
Investigation findings: The department’s Wage and Hour Division found the operator of a senior assisted living facility paid a semi-monthly salary to five workers employed as personal care assistants.
The affected employees received a lower salary due to the employer’s invalid reduction for monthly rent while residing in apartments connected to the facility. The employer failed to maintain records of the reasonable cost for furnishing the employees with lodging. By doing so, the facility violated federal law by allowing employees’ hourly wage to fall below the federal $7.25 per hour minimum wage. The division determined Morris-Pace owed these workers $21,931 in back wages.
Investigators also learned the employer paid 20 workers straight-time for all hours worked, including hours over 40 in a workweek, in violation of federal overtime requirements, and determined Morris-Pace owed these employees $59,194 in back wages.
Back wages and liquidated damages: $81,125 in back wages and $81,125 in liquidated damages
Workers affected: 20
Civil money penalties: The department assessed $16,140 in penalties for the willful nature of the employer’s Fair Labor Standards Act violations, which Morris-Pace Assisted Living Inc. has paid.
Quotes: “Morris-Pace Assisted Living’s failure to pay some workers minimum wage and their denial to pay others overtime pay for their hard work, made it more difficult for those care workers to care for their needs and those of their families,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Alfonso Gristina in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “The outcome of this investigation shows that employers who violate workers’ rights to be paid fully, often face costly consequences.”
“Employers who disregard Fair Labor Standards Act provisions deliberately will discover that the U.S. Department of Labor does not tolerate wage theft and will use legal actions needed to uphold the law,” explained Deputy Regional Solicitor Samantha Thomas in Philadelphia.
Background: Started as a family business in 1968, Morris-Pace Personal Care Home provides room and board along with medical and personal care and daily living support.
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, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions or concerns – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free.