Pay Caregivers Less than $3 per Hour; Be Hit with $7 Million in Fines
The California Labor Commissioner’s Office cited the operator of six adult care facilities in Los Angeles over $7 million for failure to pay the minimum wage and other wage and hour violations. The company must pay underpaid wages and penalties to 149 former and current employees who provided care to elderly residents 24 hours a day, six days a week.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office investigation uncovered that, over a three-year period, caregivers were paid less than $3 per hour for their work. The live-in caregivers were responsible for monitoring and caring for elderly residents and hospice patients, many of them suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. The caregivers were paid fixed amounts ranging from $1,500 to $1,800 per month, or $2.40 to $2.88 per hour. In addition, the caregivers were:
- Not paid overtime for working 24-hour shifts, six days a week.
- Not relieved from their duties to take meal or rest breaks.
- Provided pay stubs that withheld key information such as hourly rate of pay and total number of hours worked.
The citations include $2,272,343 for underpayment of minimum wages, $1,871,990 in overtime wages, $128,196 for meal period violations and $2,689,907 in liquidated damages. When workers are paid less than minimum wage, they are entitled to liquidated damages that equal the amount of underpaid minimum wages plus interest.
In addition to the money paid to the workers, $174,600 in civil penalties were also levied which will be transferred to the State’s General Fund, as required by law.
“Adult care facilities require caregivers to work around the clock, making workers in this industry vulnerable to wage theft and exploitation,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su, in a statement.
California employers need to pay close attention to increased wage and hour enforcement efforts. Enforcement agencies have been quite busy, and they don’t seem to be slowing down. In addition, local ordinances, like those in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, make compliance even more challenging.
Compliance with California’s increasingly complex labor laws can be tough. CalChamber members can read more about California Wage and Hour Laws and Local Ordinances. Not a member? See how HRCalifornia can help you.