2 senior living operators found in violation of Fair Labor Standards Act

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U.S. Department of Labor seal
U.S. Department of Labor seal

Fair Labor Standards Act violations are costing a Florida senior living operator almost $290,000 and a Los Angeles operator almost $190,000.

A Tampa, FL, assisted living community and its owner will pay $287,087 in back wages and liquidated damages to 20 workers after a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation found that they violated the overtime, minimum wage and record-keeping provisions of the act.

The investigation of La Bella Vida and Mavel Infante found that the assisted living community paid employees a predetermined salary based on their shifts, regardless of the number of hours worked. Employees regularly worked as many as 108 hours in a week, meaning that their pay rates were as little as $3 to $5 per hour in some cases. La Bella Vida also did not keep records of hours worked by employees and provided falsified time cards to the investigator, according to the labor department.

The judgment not only requires La Bella Vida and Infante to pay back wages and liquidated damages; they also must not violate the minimum wage, overtime compensation, record-keeping and anti-retaliation provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act in the future.

The labor department also has required Hollenbeck Palms in Los Angeles to pay almost $190,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 157 employees. An investigation found that the assisted living and skilled nursing center violated overtime rules by automatically deducting a 30-minute lunch period from employees' daily hours regardless of the actual time they took for a break.

Hollenbeck Palms agreed to pay $94,961 in back wages due to 157 employees and an additional $94,961 in liquidated damages to the workers. The employer also immediately corrected the unlawful 30-minute automatic deduction.

Salaried employees are not automatically excluded from receiving minimum wage and overtime. To qualify for an exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid a salary of at least $455 per week.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records and to comply with the hours worked requirements.

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