Articles Tagged with home health care workers are employees not independent contractors

Untitled-design-3-232x300“When employers misclassify employees as independent contractors and fail to pay workers their hard-earned wages, the Department of Labor will hold them legally accountable.”  This was the strong statement by the DOL when speaking about a medical staffing agency that violated the federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), when it illegally misclassified aides and nurses as independent contractors.  The nurses included licensed practical nurses and registered nurses.  In the case, Medical Staffing of America doing business as Steadfast Medical Staffing, was found to have illegally classified its workers as independent contractors rather than employees.  As independent contractors, it paid the nurses and nurses’ aides straight-time wages rather than time and one-half wages when they worked over forty (40) hours in a workweek.

The healthcare employment agency industry routinely fails to properly classify its workers as employees.  Companies purposefully misclassify health care workers as independent contractors to save on wages, health insurance, taxes, etc. all at the expense of these vital essential workers.  In this case, the DOL also found that the company failed to maintain accurate records of the hours the nurses and aids worked in violation of federal law.

If you work in the health care industry and are classified as an independent contractor, you may very well be entitled to back wages and liquidated damages (double damages).  If successful, the Court will also order the company to pay our attorney’s fees and costs.  Martin & Martin routinely handles misclassification issues in the health care industry and we are happy to give you a free consultation to determine if you are misclassified and owed back wages and liquidated damages.  We handle our cases on contingency and only recover our attorney’s fees if we are successful.

Untitled-design-2-232x300One of the biggest aspects of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that employers continue to violate is misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees.  Employers receive massive benefits by misclassifying workers as independent contractors, including not having to offer health insurance or pay minimum or overtime wages.  However, the determination of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor is not up to the whim of the employer.  While that determination, at times, is complex.  Most of the time, it is as simple as whether the worker regularly works for the company and is bound by the company’s rules and policies.  If so, they are employees — not independent contractors.  And, as employee’s they have rights under the FLSA, including the right to minimum wage and overtime for all hours over forty (40) hours in a workweek.

One example of types of companies who routinely misclassify workers is the home health care industry.  On March 14, 2022, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a consent judgment against a home health care agency when it misclassified some of its home health care workers as independent contractors and paid the workers straight time for all hours of work meaning the workers did not receive time and one-half for overtime hours.  The DOL also found that the agency did not include on-call earnings in the computation of overtime rates of pay for the workers it did pay overtime meaning the agency was paying a lower rate of overtime.

The DOL noted the significant need for essential home health care workers during the pandemic and said that “[h]ome care workers continue to deliver critical services on the pandemic’s frontlines. These workers provide people with vital assistance and help them meet basic daily needs. Without these services, many would not be able to live at home.”

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