News Release

US Department of Labor seeks to recover back wages for more than 600 skilled nursing workers whose employers allegedly withheld wages

Federal suit alleges Next Step Healthcare, affiliates deliberately underpaid employees

BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a complaint in federal court in Boston, alleging that 25 Massachusetts skilled nursing facilities in 21 communities intentionally withheld overtime wages to at least 624 employees and failed to maintain accurate employment records.

The action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division of the pay practices of Next Step Healthcare LLC, affiliated entities that jointly operated and/or managed Next Step Healthcare’s Massachusetts skilled nursing facilities and Next Step Healthcare’s co-owners, Damian N. Dell’Anno and William H. Stephan. 

The department alleges that at all of the employers’ Massachusetts facilities, they automatically deducted 30 minutes from employees’ hours worked for meal breaks and regularly permitted employees to work through those breaks. Based on those practices, the complaint alleges that the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay employees all wages due at each employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours the employees worked, and failing to pay employees the required FLSA overtime rate for all hours worked over 40 in each workweek.

“The U.S. Department of Labor will not tolerate employers who willfully deny their employees their hard-earned wages and violate the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. “This litigation shows that we will enforce the law vigorously to make sure workers are paid properly for all the compensable hours that they work.”

In its complaint, the department seeks to recover unpaid regular rate and overtime wages earned in overtime workweeks from Sept. 27, 2018, through at least Sept. 14, 2021, plus liquidated damages equal to the amount of wages found due. It also asks the court to restrain the employers from committing future violations of the FLSA’s overtime and recordkeeping provisions. 

View the department’s complaint against Next Step Healthcare and its owners and affiliates.

“Denying full wages, including overtime, to people who provide skilled nursing services to those in need in our communities makes it harder for these workers to care for themselves and their families,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carlos Matos in Boston. “Deliberately shortchanging employees’ wages, as alleged in this case, is truly unfair and illegal, and can have very costly consequences for employers who mistakenly believe they can avoid their legal responsibilities.”

In fiscal year 2023, the division recovered nearly $32 million in back wages for more than 24,000 health care workers in almost 2,500 compliance actions. It also assessed employers in the health care industry more than $2 million in civil money penalties.

The Wage and Hour Division’s district office in Boston conducted the investigation and the department’s Regional Solicitor in Boston is litigating the case.

Founded in 2014, Next Step Healthcare LLC is based in Woburn. During the period of time covered by the department’s complaint, Next Step and its subsidiaries jointly operated and/or managed at least 25 affiliated skilled nursing facilities as a single enterprise. The facilities covered by the complaint were located in Agawam, Attleboro, Braintree, Chestnut Hill, Dedham, Fall River, Fitchburg, Gloucester, Lee, Malden, Melrose, Middleboro, Norwood, Plymouth, South Dennis, Taunton, Walpole, Wareham, Westborough, West Newton and Worcester.

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. Employers and workers can call the division confidentially with questions, regardless of immigration status. The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages through the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices in English or Spanish to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

Wage and Hour Division
January 9, 2024
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Media Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Media Contact: James C. Lally
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