Agape Cottages Senior Homes in Orange County, CA, must pay a total of almost $200,000 to 17 workers to whom it denied wages and benefits by misclassifying them as “care partners” or business partners, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigated six residential care communities — in Placentia, Fullerton and Santa Ana, CA — and “uncovered significant violations of the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the [Fair Labor Standards Act] and revealed that the workers were economically dependent on the employer, and that they were employees,” the labor department said in a statement. The company owes the workers more than $45,000 in back wages for minimum wage violations and more than $150,000 for overtime violations, it added.

Agape Cottages did not respond to a request for comment.

“Misclassifying and underpaying harms not only the workers and their families, but gives lawbreakers a competitive advantage,” said Rodolfo Cortez, San Diego Wage and Hour Division district director.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as time-and-a-half regular rates for every hour worked beyond 40 in a week.