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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 11-1628-ATL (558)

Date: 

Dec. 1, 2011

Contact: 

Michael D'Aquino or Michael Wald

Phone: 

(404) 562-2076 or (404) 562-2078

US Department of Labor conducts enforcement initiative to strengthen labor law compliance in North Carolina’s residential care industry


Focus is on protecting workers, educating employers of group home facilities

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is conducting an enforcement initiative focusing on the residential care industry in North Carolina, in which the division has found widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions, particularly among group home facilities.

The residential care industry includes group homes, board and care facilities, and other businesses providing residential care for children, the aged and individuals with limited self-care abilities. Facilities that have at least two employees are subject to the FLSA. Common violations include failing to pay for work performed outside an employee’s scheduled shift or time spent attending staff meetings and trainings; deducting 8-hour sleep periods from shifts of fewer than 24 hours; paying employees a flat salary without regard to overtime; and making illegal deductions for uniforms and other items that cause workers’ wages to fall below the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25.

Since 2006, the division’s Raleigh District Office has conducted 120 investigations of residential care facilities in its jurisdiction, recovering more than $980,600 in back wages for 1,077 employees who were denied fair compensation for all hours worked.

“We are concerned about the large population of low-wage and other vulnerable workers in the area’s residential care industry, particularly those employed by independently-owned group homes. These caregivers make significant personal sacrifices in order to provide around-the-clock services for their clients, but are often denied overtime compensation and legal protections guaranteed by federal law,” said Rick Blaylock, the Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Raleigh. “The goals of this initiative are to remedy systemic violations, educate employers about their legal responsibilities and promote sustained compliance throughout the industry. These combined efforts will help ensure a level playing field and protect the interests of law-abiding employers who play by the rules and pay fair wages.”

Investigators are visiting residential care and group home facilities throughout the state to assess compliance among facility owners, operators, third-party management companies and other businesses associated with these establishments. Investigators will conduct thorough reviews of employment practices and payroll records, as well as employee interviews, to ensure compliance with all applicable labor standards. When violations are found, the division will pursue corrective action – including litigation, civil money penalties and liquidated damages – to recover workers’ wages and ensure accountability under the law.

In addition, the division is conducting outreach to inform workers of their rights under federal labor laws, and is contacting community organizations, faith-based groups, local and state agencies, and other stakeholders to engage their participation in promoting compliance. The division also is providing FLSA compliance assistance and education to employers and industry associations.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.

A fact sheet on the FLSA as it relates to the health care industry is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs53.pdf.

Information about the act is also available by contacting the Wage and Hour Division’s Raleigh District Office at 4407 Somerset Road, Suite 260, Raleigh, N.C. 27609, telephone 919-790-2742; or the district’s Charlotte Area Office at 3800 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 460, Charlotte, N.C. 28273, telephone 704-749-3360.

Additionally, information about all of the federal labor laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division is available in English and Spanish by calling the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), as well as online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.