Court orders Pittsburgh home care agency, owner to pay $208K in back wages, damages after misclassifying workers, denying pay
PITTSBURGH – A federal court is requiring a Pittsburgh staffing agency and its owner to pay $208,044 in back wages and liquidated damages to 96 home health workers misclassified as independent contractors by the employer who, in turn, failed to pay them their full wages.
The action comes in response to the U.S. Department of Labor’s request for summary judgment in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Reliable Home Health Limited. In granting the request, the court has resolved contested litigation begun by the department’s Office of the Solicitor in November 2021.
The litigation and decision follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division of the staffing company, which operates as Reliable Home Health. Investigators found, and litigation established, that the company and its owner Ali Mohamed misclassified the affected workers as independent contractors and shortchanged their hard-earned wages as a result. Specifically, the division determined the employers:
– Failed to pay one employee for three separate 8-hour shifts over a 2-week period.
- Paid straight-time rates instead of the required rate of time-and-one-half for hours over 40 in a workweek, and paid overtime wages only for hours over 80 in a bi-weekly pay period.
- Did not pay overtime on non-discretionary bonuses given as various pre-announced incentives.
- Failed to maintain payroll and timekeeping records as required.
“Hard-working home care aides provide people with essential, quality-of-life services and these workers deserve to be paid all their legally earned wages,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont in Pittsburgh.
The employers’ actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and led the department to litigate to recover wages owed to the affected workers. In its summary judgment, the court ordered Reliable Home Health Limited and Mohamed to pay $104,022 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected workers. The court also issued an injunction forbidding the employers from violating the FLSA in the future.
“When employers misclassify employees as independent contractors and fail to pay workers their hard-earned wages, the U.S. Department of Labor will hold them legally accountable,” said Acting Regional Solicitor of Labor Samantha Thomas in Philadelphia.
Based in Pittsburgh, Reliable Home Health provides in-home care, primarily for older people.
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 and employers can call the 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 in English or Spanish.