A care provider has been ordered to pay $521,905 in back pay to its employees, after the Department of Labor found it had engaged in “wage theft” after it “willfully denied” overtime pay.”
Phoenix-based Urgent Home Care Inc. was found to have broken the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), after an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hours Division.
The back pay order was given by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, which also imposed a fine of $24,222 for repeat violations.
A total of 253 workers will benefit after investigators found they had been paid straight-time rates while working overtime and hadn’t been paid for travel time between clients.
Urgent Home Care Inc. specializes in providing home-based non-medical care.
In a statement, Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Murray, said: “Urgent Home Care has again been found violating the rights of workers who provide essential services to people in need.
“The court’s order and the outcome of our investigation send the clear message that the U.S. Department of Labor will use its enforcement powers to recover workers’ hard-earned wages and hold those who deliberately engage in wage theft accountable.”
Urgent Home Care Inc. was found to have committed similar rule breaches during a separate investigation in 2016.
Under the court order, Urgent Home Care is also banned from taking retaliatory action against any employees who raised complaints and must avoid further breaches of FLSA regulations.
Murray said that companies that don’t follow the rules are likely to have trouble holding on to workers, commenting: “As employers continue to struggle to find the people they need to fill open positions, those who fail to respect workers’ rights will find it harder to retain and recruit employees than employers who do.”
Newsweek has contacted Urgent Home Care Inc. for comment.
In a separate case this week, the Department of Labor fined equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. $145,027, after an employee died on June 2 at the company’s foundry in Mapleton, Illinois.
The 39-year-old melting specialist fell into a pot of molten lava, which had been heated to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
An investigation found his life could have been saved had the “required safety protections” been in place.
Bill Donovan, a regional administrator at the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said: “A worker’s life could have been spared if Caterpillar had made sure required safety protections were in place, a fact that only adds to this tragedy.
“Producing more than 150,000 tons each year, Caterpillar’s foundry is one of the nation’s largest and they should be acutely aware of industry regulations to protect workers using smelters and other dangerous equipment.”
Two construction workers were killed in March after a concrete wall fell onto them in Boynton Beach, Florida.
During the same month, a man in Florida was crushed to death by a bulldozer whilst he was making use of a porta-potty.
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