Local care facilities ordered to pay over $100K in back wages to employees

Workers made as little as $6.71 an hour, say federal Labor Department officials

The owner of a group of Pleasanton residential care facilities who was ordered to pay $176,000 in unpaid back wages to live-in caregivers this week said today that she had been following general industry practices and called for federal officials to do "more education rather than enforcement."

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division on Tuesday announced that it had ordered the owners of Serene Care, a group of three residential care facilities in Pleasanton, to pay back wages and damages to a dozen live-in caregivers.

The department found in an investigation that the facilities paid employees a flat daily rate for eight hours of work that did not reflect the hours they actually worked.

The company did not pay overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, meaning that in practice employees made as little as $6.71 an hour, according to a department official. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Serene Care owner and operator Sara Solomon today said in a statement that the company, which she described as small and family-run, provides room and board to all caregivers and does not require them to work more than five days in a week unless in an emergency.

"We were following general industry practices, but we are now delighted that our caregivers have received what they are due," Solomon said. "Most of them have been with us for several of the 19 years we've served the Pleasanton elderly community -- and we are grateful that they are still with us."

"We only wish that the DOL did more education rather than enforcement -- so industry practices are aligned with relevant laws -- and we would have known sooner," Solomon said.

She noted that there are "inconsistencies in the law that make operating small family-run facilities difficult."

In an ongoing investigation over the past several years, the Wage and Hour Division has found Bay Area residential care facilities and nursing homes have underpaid more than 1,300 workers by millions of dollars.

Workers at some facilities the department has investigated were routinely asked to work 10 to 14 hour days, six days a week, but only paid for eight hours a day or a flat weekly salary regardless of the hours worked, DOL officials said.

In some cases workers were required to stay on-site overnight, but not paid for on-call time and not provided a place to sleep other than the floor during those times, department officials said.

"Workers who provide for our loved ones around-the-clock at residential care facilities deserve to be compensated fairly and lawfully," Susana Blanco, district manager of the department's Wage and Hour Division office in San Francisco, said in a statement Tuesday. "These employees will now receive the hard-earned wages owed to them."

"Other employers in this industry, who may be shortchanging their workers in this way, should take note and take corrective action immediately," Blanco said.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service

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8 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:37 am

Unbelievable! This is how the richer gets Richer and the poor gets poorer! :0(

4 people like this
Posted by Julia
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2015 at 10:54 am

Dear Mary why are you stereotyping the rich. It is an unfair comment.

There are many successful rich folks that play by the rules.

Your comment needs to be cleaned up a bit.

Think before you speak.

Also I am not saying that specific industry have angels running them.

Thank you for listening to my opinion.

Julia Pardini fro Alamo

3 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 24, 2015 at 11:01 am

So if the workers are "live-in" as the article says, that means they have no expenses for housing and food - the assumption being that they eat the same food as the patients and sleep in the same facility.

Somehow this needs to be worked in to the wage calculations since they are receiving compensation beyond their wages. Perhaps their accountant is to blame.

3 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 24, 2015 at 11:32 am

Ed is right on. What may happen here is the 'wages' will be increased until the care homes go under and the loved ones are forced out onto the street with no care. Great plan, eh! I have also witnessed poor care being provided, yet the care giver was still racking in their pay long after they should have been dismissed even prosecuted for the ill treatment the guests received. Cuts both ways.

3 people like this
Posted by Hmmmm
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Unions are pushing hard to take over all home medical care totally, so nobody would be able to afford care, except poor, since we pick up their tabs for them. Unions are having the DEMS they own in legislature write silly laws that will destroy lives of many. No daughter of your cousin can 'live free' while attending community college, and caring for, sleeping at senior's home, watching 'over'. We are no longer allowed to make family decisions. Pay those unions and all that goes with it. Mess up lives of many middle-class.
Probably illegals, who fear being turned in. But this is CA, so no way would that happen. This legislature, has given illegal kids free Medi-Cal, so we pay any of their costs for them.

2 people like this
Posted by Sandy Levine
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Jun 24, 2015 at 12:36 pm

First of all the law is laided out in CA in their labor laws for room and board, it is a very low amount you can deduct like $16.00 a day .

Second, yes in 2014 when California added domestic worked to the 45 hours and over 9 hours a day to the law that made huge jumps in home care prices. Then the beginning of this year the court ruled against hour care being able to deduct the 8 hour sleep time, which again may prices go way up. Many people have no choice but to move their loved one to a facility but the facilities are getting full and soon won't be able to accommodate the volume.

I have a home-care company and we always paid out caregiver for live in $192.00 a day. Now we have almost no live-in because we have pay them almost $300.00 a day then taxes, workers comp and liability and our operations staffing on top of that.

I have been in this business over 8 hours and the cost to clients now has gone from $250.00 a day to now $ 550.00 to $600.00 a day. This knocks out most people for being able to stay home where they have lived often most of their life.

i understand the need to live but also realize you don't need to be working all the 24 hours. Most of the time they have lots of down time. they only have 1 client.

I think the government ,with their rules ,is doing it's best to put small business out of business. Furthermore, instead of helping employees they are hurting them because there are less job available.

2 people like this
Posted by Hmmmm
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Thank you Sandy L. You pretty much confirmed my points. The all Dem Sacto Legislature has made living life Very, Very difficult for middle - class. They chose, as always dp t o stand with, for, and by the UNIONS in every step they take. NO middle-class worker in CA, should ever again vote for the UNION-OWNED, who sell us out every time, given a choice to direct $$ to the unions, while screwing us, the taxpayer and consumer. This makes it difficult for any extended families to pool their money to care for Grandma. These political whxxxx who have sold themselves, body & mind, to the unions, rip us off and make our lives more difficult. They do NOT help us. They are breaking the state with their excess, but sadly, that isn't all, they don't care if they CAUSE Grandma to have to leave home (cheaper & better)... these excess costs will also throw Grandma into senior Medical assistance, putting her in a facility that all us taxpayers will have to pay for her.increased costs. This is a perfect example. Pay attention. I hope you were not a voter who put those union-owned thieves into office to screw mid-level taxpaying workers like us. Why can't Ca go back to a 6 month legislature, like we USE to gives them less time to damage and HARM US!! That's right..for them, it is NOT about US, get it?? It IS about paying off the UNIONS, (the single largest political donor in CA) and electing those who write these laws!!!!

2 people like this
Posted by Don Key
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 24, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Right Ed, I'm sure Susana Blanco is on the phone right now with the IRS/FTB making sure they get their cut of the additional taxes due from these workers for the additional compensation and fringe benefits received.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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