CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Kynd Hearts Home Health Care LLC, a Chesapeake home health care company, has been ordered to pay more than $1.5 million to 194 workers who were not paid proper overtime.

The payment includes $759,698 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages, the U.S. Department of Labor said in a press release on Tuesday. The co-owners of the business are Shawndell D. Harris and Alvonda Evans.

“The U.S. Department of Labor will hold employers who repeatedly and willfully fail to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act legally accountable,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “Other home healthcare industry employers should take note and ensure that they are paying their employees in compliance with the law.”

The DOL says the court ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk comes after a complaint that was filed back in September 2020, but it’s not the first time Kynd Hearts has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found overtime violations in an investigation back in 2014 as well.

“The employers knew their obligations to pay proper overtime rates and yet, they willfully disregarded the law and denied workers all of their hard-earned wages,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “That is wage theft, and it will not be tolerated.”

The most recent investigation found that the business:

  • Failed to pay certain non-exempt employees the proper overtime premium and instead paid straight time for hours over 40 in some workweeks.
  • Developed a pay scheme to reduce employees’ hourly rates the more hours employees worked and then paid an overtime rate based on the reduced hourly rate, not the regular hourly rate.
  • Failed to show total premium pay for all overtime hours worked in a workweek in its payroll records.

The DOL emphasized that Kynd Hearts was intentional in its wage theft practices, and a judge has now forbidden any future FLSA violations.

Low wages and high rates of pay violations are common in the health care industry, the DOL says, and its Wage and Hour Division recovered $14.9 million in back wages for more than 22,000 workers in the industry in fiscal year 2022.

If you think your employer is violating federal labor laws, you can contact the DOL’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).