In 2021, the Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) collected $230 million in wages owed to 190,000 workers. On February 1, 2022, the DOL added 100 investigators to its Wage and Hour team, and on February 4, the Wage and Hour Division recovered $201,356 in back wages for 320 Home Instead Senior Care employees in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
According to the DOL, the Wage and Hour Division’s goals include:
- Conducting investigations to determine if employers are paying workers fairly
- Educating employees about their rights
- Combatting worker retaliation and worker misclassification
Education is important to the DOL because employees can play an important role in protecting their own rights. Now is the perfect time to review your employment situation and make sure your employer is paying you correctly.
The Wage and Hour Division is focusing on worker misclassification because it is one of employers’ favorite tactics to underpay their employees.
Employees may be misclassified as exempt when they should be getting overtime or misclassified as independent contractors when they should be getting the benefits of being an employee.
To determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the DOL uses an employment relationship analysis under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The factors the DOL considers include but are not limited to:
- The duration of the relationship (employees are permanent while independent contractors are typically more temporary).
- How integral the contractor’s work is to the employer’s main business.
- How much of the work the employer controls (contractors usually have more independence).
- The contractor’s opportunities for profit and loss.
- The contractor’s abilities to remain competitive.
- The amount the contractor invests in facilities and equipment.
When it comes to classifying workers, the DOL does not pay attention to where someone works and whether they have a formal employment agreement. Instead, it considers the factors above.
Employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors can face consequences, and misclassified employees can recover some of their losses.
Misclassified employees can file a complaint with the DOL or contact an attorney to recover unpaid overtime or offset the money they lost as an “independent contractor.”
Systemic Wage Violations in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee
Even without misclassification, employers can underpay their employees. For example, take Home Instead Senior Care in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The caregiving provider’s non-compliant pay practices deprived employees of $201,356 at franchise locations throughout Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Per the DOL, Home Instead failed to pay overtime for employees who worked in multiple positions within the same workweek, did not pay for on-call hours, calculated overtime pay incorrectly, and failed to maintain accurate records of hours worked. Even if employees drove to care for clients or performed work before or after their scheduled shifts, they did not see any additional compensation.
Fortunately, the DOL was able to identify 320 workers in Rainbow City, Frankfort, Clarksville, Franklin, Goodlettsville, and Nashville who were eligible for back pay. The Wage and Hour Division was proud to pay Home Instead’s “hard-working caregivers” their due.
How Can I Recover Back Wages?
Even with 100 new investigators, the Wage and Hour Division is overworked, and DOL complaints can take ages to resolve. If you are concerned about your pay, we understand that you want to recover back wages as soon as possible.
Our team at Donati Law, PLLC has been helping employees like you recover back pay for more than 35 years. We seek to make our community a better place and improve the lives of its hardworking residents, and we do this by holding employers accountable and helping our clients seek justice.
Every client we help is a cause we believe in. Become our cause today by discussing your case with an accomplished, caring attorney – you can reach us at (901) 209-5500 or online.