Owners of a group of residential care homes will pay $1.1 million to resolve claims that they deprived live-in caregivers and licensed vocational nurses of the wages and benefits to which they are legally entitled under California labor laws. They are alleged to have paid workers as little as $4 per hour and made them work more than 87 hours a week.

It is not uncommon for workers in care facilities to have round-the-clock shifts and get paid flat daily or weekly rates that do not account for the actual number of hours worked, resulting in clear violations of California minimum wage, overtime and meal and rest break laws. In this case, some workers were paid $750 per week, but when divided by the number of hours they actually worked, their hourly rates fell below California’s minimum wage and failed to include any extra compensation for overtime pay. Another similar case resulted in the Labor Commissioner assessing a San Fernando Valley chain of six Alzheimer’s and dementia facilities $7.1 million for allegedly paying 149 workers less than $3 an hour.

Residential-care facilities are the getting more attention from labor departments and private lawyers who represent employees in overtime and wage claims as part of a crackdown on wage law violations among immigrant-heavy industries, including construction, car washes and janitorial companies. In addition to meal and rest break, minimum wage and overtime pay violations, misclassification of caregivers as independent contractors is also common. Since January 2016, U.S. labor officials have assessed $3 million in back wages owed to more than 1,500 California workers in the residential-care home industry, and since 2014, the Labor Commissioner’s Office has issued citations totaling more than $12.8 million to residential-care facilities.

“[T]he workers are women of color, who are not expected to know their rights, have access to legal services, or to speak up… The well-being of workers and the quality of care of patients are closely connected.“   California Labor Secretary

What to Do If You are a Caregiver Who has Not Been Paid Overtime

If you have been working round-the-clock shifts, 60, 70 or 80+ hours per week and only receive a flat daily or weekly rate that does not increase with the number of hours you work, you are likely the victim of wage theft due to violations of California minimum wage, overtime and meal and rest break laws. There is a good chance that you and your coworkers could be missing out on significant regular and/or overtime wages. The first thing you should do is begin keeping your own accurate record of all time actually spent working. The next step should be to contact a lawyer who handles overtime pay and wage and hour cases to review your situation.

If you have questions or believe that you have been the victim of wage theft contact us for a free and confidential review of your situation.