woman doing payroll

Two North Carolina home care employers failed to pay their employees the correct amount of overtime. Now, those businesses have been held accountable for back wages and damages in excess of $380,000. The Department of Labor (DOL) investigation and subsequent decision is another sad chapter in the ongoing story of how medical and healthcare workers across the country are frequently denied their rights to overtime. If you work in one of these industries or you have questions about whether you are being correctly compensated for your hours, we can help.

Failing to Correctly Credit Workers

It was determined that two home care businesses in North Carolina cheated 126 employees out of overtime pay.

One failed to properly compensate its employees because they worked at multiple locations during the same work week. The business should have combined all the hours, which exceeded 40 during the week. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, hours worked over 40 must be paid at the rate of 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay. All hours have to be combined when calculating wages. It makes no difference where the employees actually work.

The other employer’s story was a little different. Employees worked more than 40 hours during their work weeks. But the employer only paid straight-time (regular pay) rates for all hours worked. This is a direct violation of the FLSA. On top of this, the employer failed to pay for travel time. Employees would visit multiple clients during the day and therefore travel between clients’ homes. This time should have been compensated.

The investigation recovered back wages and liquidated damages totaling $193,768 for 98 workers at the first company and $187,148 for 28 personal care workers at the second company.

Healthcare Workers Frequently Cheated

Unfortunately, these two incidents are hardly isolated. From 2020 to 2022, the Wage and Hour Division found violations in nearly 89 percent of over 1,200 home care and nursing care facilities and recovered more than $16.2 million in back wages and liquidated damages for approximately 13,000 workers. Additionally, employers were assessed a total of $156,404 in civil penalties.

Workers in the medical, healthcare, and related industries are often denied overtime compensation. Although some workers are exempt under federal overtime laws, the exemptions are frequently applied incorrectly. One example is the learned professional exemption. All of the following criteria must be met before the employer can claim this exemption:

  • The employee must be paid on a salary or fee basis (as defined) at a rate of not less than $684 per week;
  • The employee’s main duty must be performing work that requires advanced knowledge, which is work that is predominantly intellectual in nature and requires the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment;
  • The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and
  • The advanced knowledge must be that which is customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction

Every element must apply, and it’s up to the employer to justify the use of the exemption. In many cases, the exemption is not correctly applied, resulting in underpayment for overtime hours worked. 

These North Carolina cases demonstrate common other ways in which employers deny overtime. All work must be credited to the employee, regardless of where it is performed. And travel time that is necessarily part of the job (other than normal home-to-work or work-to-home time) must generally be compensated and included in determining overtime pay too.

Let Us Stand Up For Your Overtime Rights

Regardless of which industry you work in, you deserve to be paid fairly and fully. When employers do not credit their employees for all time worked, our attorneys get involved. If you aren’t being paid for your overtime hours, reach out to The Lore Law Firm. Fill out our online client intake form now – for a free and confidential review of your situation.