Exterior Department of Labor

The Department of Labor’s crackdown on home health and other long-term care providers has resulted in more than $1.3 million in penalties against providers and $28.6 million in back wages for nearly 25,000 workers. 

The DOL said since the Wage and Hourly Division began targeting the care industry last year, it has conducted more than 1,600 investigations and found violations in 80% of its reviews. The most common violations were failures to pay overtime, federal minimum wages or the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. All are violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act

The department said women, especially those of color, were most affected because they are often employed as home health aides, certified nursing aides and licensed practical nurses. 

“These dedicated professionals work long hours to provide compassionate care to people in need,” Wage and Hour Division Principal Deputy Administrator Jessica Looman said in a statement. “Yet too many find themselves working for employers who deprive them of their full wages and benefits they’ve earned for their hard work. We are determined to make sure these workers’ rights are respected and protected.” 

Separately, the DOL said Wednesday it recovered $1.2 million in back wages for nearly 600 home health workers employed by four agencies in Texas and Louisiana. The companies involved in those actions included Ace Primary Homecare in Pharr, TX; Fernandez Care Assistance LLC in San Juan, TX; Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans in Laredo, TX and Guardian Angels Care Services in Alexandria, LA. The four firms all violated FLSA by failing to pay workers overtime. 

Last month the DOL released a proposed rule that would make it easier for the department to find that caregivers have been misclassified as independent contractors, rather than employees. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the proposed rule will provide better guidance to employers and help them avoid misclassifying employees.