4 Inland Empire Assisted Living Nurses Receive $270,000 In Wage Arrears From FBI – Orange County Register
Four Filipino nationals who often worked 16-hour days, seven days a week at assisted-living facilities in Ontario, Upland and Riverside will share nearly $270,000 in retroactive overtime pay and damages after a nine-month federal investigation.
The investigation found that LMB Care Home LLC paid live-in caregivers direct time rates for hours over 40 in a workweek in violation of federal law and failed to properly maintain time card records.
“We’re just trying to make sure that all employees, regardless of their (resident) status in the United States, have their right to be paid minimum wage and overtime,” said Skarleth Kozlo, deputy director of the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division West Covina said Friday. “An employer’s ignorance does not excuse not paying employees properly.”
LMB officials did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The investigation, which began in March 2021 and concluded in June, involved LMB facilities at 1125 W. J St. and 1813 N. Calaveras Ave. in Ontario; 1316 N San Antonio Ave. in the highlands; and 11262 Sun Haven Way in Riverside.
No information was released as to whether the investigation was prompted by a staff complaint or a routine Labor Department inspection.
Wage and hour investigations typically involve interviewing employees and reviewing payroll and time card records, as well as monitoring to determine when workers begin and end their shifts.
“A lot of (working) hours are often outside the clock, so you won’t find them on time cards,” Kozlo said of the need to use undercover tactics.
In addition to working long hours, the four LMB employees have had to take unpaid lunch breaks, according to Kozlo, as the company has been struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They (LMB) have tried to do their best to stay afloat and find workers who can work in this environment,” she added. “The pandemic has hit everyone hard.”
Payroll and hourly investigators often find that staff at small assisted care facilities such as those operated by LMB do not realize that they are being exploited.
“It’s almost like they don’t see it as wrong,” Kozlo said. “They are very caring people and see it as helping the community and helping the people.”
LMB officials cooperated with the investigation and agreed to pay the federal government $269,104 in back wages and damages owed to the workers.
The amount of funds that will be distributed over the next few months is significant, according to Kozlo, and meaningful given the handful of employees affected. “That means four people worked long hours,” she said, adding that employees were surprised and delighted at their sudden stroke of luck.
In 2021, the West Covina Wage and Hour Division office collected $13.8 million in arrears of wages for more than 17,000 healthcare workers nationwide. It surveyed about 20 nursing facilities in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties over the past year.
Although LMB provides good housing, federal investigators have found shocking conditions at some facilities in the area, with live-in workers having to sleep on couches, floors and in garages, Kozlo said.
In 2021, the Labor Department recovered $158,854 in back wages for 13 Cornerstone Care Inc. employees who had housing expenses deducted from their paychecks despite being forced to sleep in kitchens and living rooms. Cornerstone Care operates assisted living facilities in Laguna Hills
Employees who believe they are owed wage arrears may contact the Wage and Hour Division office in West Covina confidentially by calling 866-487-9243.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/07/4-inland-empire-assisted-living-caregivers-to-receive-270k-in-back-wages-from-feds/ 4 Inland Empire Assisted Living Nurses Receive $270,000 In Wage Arrears From FBI – Orange County Register