Employer forced to pay $500,000 after being caught stealing worker’s wages

A care provider was ordered to pay $521,905 in back pay to his employees, after the Department of Labor found he had engaged in “wage theft” after “willfully refusing” overtime pay”.

Phoenix-based Urgent Home Care Inc. was found guilty of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), after an investigation by the department’s wage and hour division.

The payment reminder order was issued 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 the normal rate while working overtime and had not been paid for travel time between customers.

Urgent Home Care Inc. specializes in providing non-medical home care.

A caregiver in Brussels, Belgium attends to a patient in December 2020. Phoenix-based Urgent Home Care Inc. was fined for depriving employees of pay.

In a statement, Wage and Hour Division District Manager Eric Murray said: ‘Urgent home care has again been found to violate the rights of workers who provide essential services to people in the need.

“The court order and the outcome of our investigation send a clear message that the U.S. Department of Labor will use its enforcement powers to recover workers’ hard-earned wages and hold accountable those who deliberately engage in wage theft. “

Urgent Home Care Inc. was found to have committed similar breaches of the rules during a separate investigation in 2016.

Under the court order, Urgent Home Care is also prohibited from retaliating against employees who complained and must prevent further violations of FLSA regulations.

Murray said companies that don’t follow the rules are likely to struggle to retain workers, commenting: “As employers continue to struggle to find the people they need to fill vacancies, those who don’t follow rights workers will find it more difficult 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 equipment manufacturer fined Caterpillar Inc. $145,027, after an employee died 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 over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

An inquest found his life could have been saved had the “required safety protections” been in place.

Bill Donovan, regional administrator for the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said: “A worker’s life could have been saved had Caterpillar ensured that the 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 largest in the nation and should be acutely aware of industry regulations to protect workers using foundries and other hazardous equipment. »

Of them construction workers were killed in March after a concrete wall fell on them in Boynton Beach, Florida.

During the same month, a man in Florida was crushed to death by a bulldozer while he was using a porta-potty.