D.C. Home Care Workers Sue Employers over Wage Violations
A group of 130 Washington, D.C., home care workers on April 8 sued four home care agencies over alleged violations of local wage and labor laws.
In the lawsuit, filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court, the workers argue that they were denied time-and-a-half overtime pay as well as paid sick time over a three-year period.
They also allege that their employers — Capitol View Home Health Agency, Human Touch, T&N Nursing and VMT Home Health — did not pay them the wage to which they were entitled under the district’s Living Wage Act (pdf), which applies to employees of government contractors.
Since home care agencies are reimbursed through Medicaid, the workers argue they should have been paid the district’s living wage, which was $13.60/hour in 2014. Instead, they allege, they only earned approximately $10/hour.
“For years, these home care agencies flouted the District of Columbia’s basic wage and hour protections for workers,” Greg McGillivary, the attorney representing the home care workers, told CNN Money on April 8.
Other D.C. home care agencies have been accused of wage violations. In December, a group of 150 home care workers filed a similar class action suit against three other home care agencies.
Observers say that the lawsuits may not yet be over; Washington Business Journal reported on April 8 that the D.C. home care industry could face up to $150 million in class-action challenges when all is said and done.
The D.C. home care industry has also drawn scrutiny from the federal government recently. In early 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovered a massive Medicaid fraud scheme in which representatives from D.C. home care and personal care agencies convinced consumers to bill Medicaid for unneeded services, then pocketed the extra reimbursement money.
The scheme cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and led to dozens of arrests on federal fraud charges. T&N Nursing and VMT Home Health were among the home care agencies implicated in the scandal, the Washington Post reported April 8.
— by Matthew Ozga