New York City home health care workers recently filed a class action lawsuit against their employer, McMillan’s Home Care Agency, alleging that the Agency did not pay them overtime when they worked over 40 hours a week and as many 60 hours a week. The New York home care workers allege that the Agency unlawfully made them purchase supplies, pay for cleaning supplies and falsified pay records. The home care workers seek to collect their unpaid wages and the Agency’s future compliance with New York State’s Labor Law and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The lawsuit was filed by Josephina A. Toleda-Montera in the Supreme Court of New York, New York County, on behalf of herself and hundreds of current and former workers employed by McMillan for the past 6 years. The complaint alleges that Ms. Montera worked over 40 hours per week but was not paid overtime wages as required by the New York State Labor Law and FLSA. In addition, she alleges that the Agency’s practice of requiring employees to attend training sessions without paying the employees for that time violates labor laws. Specifically, she alleges that she and other employees were required to attend half-day training sessions three-times a year. Although home health care workers generally are not covered under the FLSA for overtime, home health care workers are eligible to receive overtime compensation at the rate of one and half times the minimum wage under New York State Labor Law.
Given the increase in the elderly population, the home health care industry is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country. In fact, home health care workers make up one of every seven low wage workers in New York City. Such workers provide a valuable service by caring for our elderly population. Not only are they underpaid while performing such valuable services, they are often cheated out of their wages that are owed to them. A recent study of employment and labor law violations in New York City, Working Without Laws, published by the National Employment Law Project, found 83% of home health care workers were not paid overtime in accordance with the law and that 84% of home heath care workers worked “off the clock” without any compensation. The study also estimated that in a given week, about 317,263 New York City low wage workers experience at least one pay based violation resulting in the workers to lose more than $18.4 million a week.
Another study, Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, which looked at low wage workers in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, found that 76% of the workers surveyed who worked more than 40 hours a week were not paid overtime. The study also found that the average low wage worker earning $339 a week is robbed of $51 a week due to workplace violations by the employer, which amounts to a 15% loss in pay. Women, immigrants, and people of color were disproportionately more likely to experience workplace violations.
Why is this an important issue? Such workplace violations impact everyone on a national level, not just the employee who has been robbed of his wages. The worker’s family loses wages which affects their ability to spend on housing, food, clothes, education, etc. This in turn can also affect the economic health of the community the worker lives in. The government will also lose out on tax revenues from lost wages which will have a wider impact on the whole country. Given the far reaching implications of this issue, overtime laws need to be properly enforced. Low wage workers also need to know their rights and have access to legal resources without fear of retaliation.
If you, anyone of relatives or friends have experienced any type of wage and hour or overtime violation at the workplace, the New York Overtime Lawyers at Villanueva and Sanchala can help you. Call us now at (800) 893-9645 for a free initial telephone consultation.
Broken Law, Unprotected Workers, Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America’s Cities
Working Without Laws: A Survey of Employment and Labor Law Violations in New York City
U.S. Department of Labor
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