Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.
Date: December 17, 2014
Contact: Leo F. Kay or Jose A. Carnevali
Phone: 415-625-2630 or 415-625-2631
U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 14-2153-SAN (SF-85)
US Department of Labor recovers more than $637K in back wages, damages for employees at San Francisco-area facilities providing care for elderly and ill
SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Department of Labor reached an agreement with owners of five Bay-Area facilities who will pay $637,048 in total to 24 employees providing care for the elderly and ill. The amount includes $318,524 in minimum wage and overtime back wages, plus an additional $318,524 in liquidated damages. The facilities are Retirement Plus of San Carlos I; Retirement Plus of San Carlos II; Laurelwood Care Home; Three Sisters Care Home; and Three Sisters Care Home II. The department’s Wage and Hour Division began a two-year investigation of the firms beginning in February 2012 to spot Fair Labor Standards Act violations.
“These workers perform a vital role as caregivers. Some should have earned as much as an additional $300 per week to meet minimum legal requirements. That money can help support a family,” said Susana Blanco, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in San Francisco. “The employer also treated one employee as an independent contractor—a trend that characterizes employees as contractors and denies them basic workplace protections. For vulnerable workers, this case represents a victory in the protection of their rights.”
San Francisco District Office investigators found that the firm paid most employees a weekly salary without regard to hours worked. Entitled to minimum wage and overtime, many affected employees received as little as $5 per hour and worked up to 11 hours per day, five to six days a week. The owners also failed to keep accurate and complete records of employee hours. Additionally, a caregiver was misclassified as an independent contractor and worked long hours without minimum wage and overtime pay.
“In an industry with a substantial record of labor violations and exploitation, these results should warn employers,” said Ruben Rosalez, the division’s regional administrator in San Francisco. “We will hold employers accountable for noncompliance, and we urge workers to contact the department if they believe their rights have been violated.”
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records.
The misclassification of workers as something other than employees, such as independent contractors, presents a serious problem for affected employees, employers and the entire economy. Misclassified employees are often denied access to critical benefits and protections, such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance. Employee misclassification also generates substantial losses to state and federal treasuries, and to Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds.
For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or in San Francisco at 415-625-7720. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
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.