URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A Mattoon-based home healthcare provider has been ordered to pay over $1 million to its workers after a federal judge found the provider failed to pay them properly for the hours they worked.
Judge Colin Bruce, U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District of Illinois, issued an order earlier this month that found Lee McDevitt, owner and operator of Midwest Home Care, liable for back pay and damages to 69 employees. In this decision, Bruce rejected a claim from McDevitt that the company is not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act because they operated solely in Illinois.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wages and Hour Division said an investigation determined that McDevitt paid a daily rate to workers employed as caregivers regardless of the number of hours they worked. A majority of them worked 24-hour shifts, and this pay rate, officials said, resulted in minimum wage and overtime violations. The caregivers provided in-home healthcare and assisted living services to clients in Mattoon, Champaign and Tuscola.
The investigation determined that McDevitt owed his employees $562,389 in back wages and an equal amount in damages.
The court also ruled that McDevitt violated the FLSA’s recordkeeping requirements by failing to track an employee’s hours worked, including sleep time interruptions, accurately. By failing to do so, DOL officials said, Midwest Home Care’s sleep credit was invalid.
“Home healthcare workers who provide around-the-clock care provide people unable to care for themselves with the dignity they deserve and offer family members some peace of mind,” said Jessica Looman, Principal Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division “The Wage and Hour Division often finds workers in this industry – among our nation’s lowest paid – victimized by employers’ wage violations. This judgment is an important step toward making sure 69 caregivers are paid fully for their hard work and raise awareness of how common these wage violations are.”
The court also ruled that the Department of Labor could protect the identities of employees who cooperated with the investigation and litigation.
“The court’s favorable rulings on a number of issues related to what evidence can be used, including accepting confidential employee statements as evidence upholds the Department of Labor’s use of the informer’s privilege to protect employees during discovery,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “The resolution of this matter shows that the U.S. Department of Labor will take all necessary actions, including litigation, to hold employers accountable when they fail to respect worker rights and protections.”
Under the terms of the court’s ruling, McDevitt is forbidden from having future violations of the FLSA’s minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping provisions.