A federal court in Virginia has entered a judgment ordering a medical staffing agency, which intentionally violated federal laws and denied 1,105 certified nursing aides, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses their rightfully earned overtime wages, to pay more than $7.2 million in back wages and liquidated damages, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency said the judgment sends an “unequivocal message” on misclassification to healthcare industry employers.
Employers’ misclassification of workers as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime is a rampant problem in the U.S. The court’s judgment in this case follows a lengthy investigation from DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, which found that the staffing agency misclassified aides and nurses as independent contractors beginning at least as far back as 2015. The agency said that “[b]y misclassifying the workers, the medical staffing agency paid them straight-time wages instead of time-and-a-half when they worked over 40 in a workweek.”
The company was ordered to pay at least $3,619,716 in back wages and the same amount in what is called liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are essentially just a doubling of the actual damages causes. Such “liquidated damages” are available under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Additionally, the court asked the DOL to update the back wages calculations to present day. This will likely increase the amount owed significantly.
If you believe that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor so that your employer can avoid paying you overtime, you should visit with a Texas employment lawyer immediately. Strict time deadlines apply to your ability to bring such claims.