In another significant summary judgment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal court in Pennsylvania ordered a Philadelphia home health care agency to pay more than $7 million for FLSA overtime violations. The litigation and judgment came after the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that the employer willfully failed to pay overtime and falsified timesheets. The judgment comes on the heels of the largest ever recorded verdict under the FLSA when a court ordered another Pennsylvania court to pay a historic $22 million for wage and hour violations.
Overtime and Recordkeeping Under the FLSA
One of five major employment laws that all employers should familiarize themselves with, the FLSA provides for several federal wage and hour standards. Denying overtime pay is a violation of the FLSA and applicable state and local wage and hour laws. Employers must pay an overtime pay rate of not less than one and one-half times the regular pay rate during hours worked more than 40 a week.
Additionally, every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt employee. Records do not have to be in a particular form. However, they must include the following information:
- specific identifying information about the employee
- data on hours worked,
- pay rate, and
- wages earned.
In order to ensure employers succeed in their compliance efforts, WHD investigators enforce these wage and hour laws applicable to all businesses.
Overview of the Willful FLSA Overtime Violations
According to the DOL, the employer’s willful FLSA overtime violations consisted of, in most cases, not including employees’ time spent during work-related travel when calculating wages. Overall, the Court found the following willful violations:
- Failure to pay the required overtime rate by not compensating for time employees spent traveling between clients’ homes and back to the office during the same workday.
- Paying certain employees straight-time hourly rates for all hours, including hours over 40 in a workweek.
- Segregating types of performed work during the workweek rather than combining all hours when calculating overtime pay.
- Not keeping accurate time and payroll records.
Judgment in the Case
The DOL filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (the Court). The Court subsequently found the employer liable for the willful FLSA overtime violations. On May 12th, 2023, the Court entered its summary judgment against the home health care agency. The Court ordered the employer to pay $3,538,360 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Back wages and liquidated damages will be distributed among 1,230 affected current and former employees.