A Westmoreland County-based home health care service provider has agreed to pay more than $380,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 46 employees working from four Western Pennsylvania locations who were denied overtime pay dating back to 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The agency’s Wage and Hour Division investigated Trafford-based From the Heart Companion Service LLC and found the company neglected to pay overtime to employees at four of its locations for time worked over 40 hours in a week, a violation of the Fair Labor Act, according to Department of Labor spokesperson Joanna Hawkins.
To resolve the violations, the company paid $191,591 in back wages plus an equal amount in liquidated damages to the impacted workers.
According to the agency, about 25 workers at its Trafford location were paid $96,350 in owed overtime wages, 11 workers from its Irwin location were paid $53,897; two employees at From the Heart Laurel Highlands were paid $23,812; and eight employees at an Erie location were paid $15,533.
Hawkins said the settlement was made after four separate investigations into the company’s practices between December 2019 through November 2021.
An investigation at the employer’s location in Hollidaysburg, operating as From the Heart at Penn State, found no violations, the agency reported.
“Professional caregivers provide vital support and services to some of the most vulnerable populations. They must receive all of their rightfully earned wages,” said John DuMont, director of the Wage and Hour Division district in Pittsburgh.
From the Heart Companion Service provides home care for elderly and physically challenged individuals, he said.
“The outcome of our investigations … should remind other employers to review their pay practices to avoid costly penalties,” he said.
From the Heart Companion Service was founded in 2006 by president and owner Janis Mandich Durick. Messages left for Durick seeking comment were not immediately returned.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics found in December 2021, that 716,000 health care and social assistance workers left their positions. As the aging U.S. population grows and demand for home health care services increases, employment for home health and personal care aides is projected to grow 33% from 2020 to 2030 – faster than the average for all occupations – adding about 1.1 million new jobs.
These trends indicate that industry employers will find it more difficult to recruit and retain without being highly competitive and ensuring compliance with law governing workers’ rights, DuMont said.
“Health care workers are in great demand and facing record burnout,” he said.
More information on the hour and wage division is available at dol.gov/agencies/whd.