LOS ANGELES — The city attorney for Los Angeles recently filed a lawsuit, along with an injunction, against an area home health care provider over allegations the company engaged in rampant wage theft, mostly against vulnerable immigrant workers. According to the city attorney, Health Alliance Nurses Corp. and Hand Homecare Provider Inc., failed to pay an estimated 200 workers minimum wage and overtime wages over a four-year period, going as far as threatening many employees with litigation if they went to work directly for clients.
According to the lawsuit, filed under California’s business and professions laws, the defendant charged patients $170 to $250 per day for 24-hour in-home care, but only paid employees $100 to $125 per shift. As a result, the home care nurses earned as little as $5.50 per hour or less over the course of an entire shift, a violation of state and federal minimum wage and overtime laws.
Furthermore, the employees worked under the auspices of retaliation in the form of termination or being blacklisted within a competitive industry if the individuals did not agree to falsify timesheets and accept the unfair wage practices. The city attorney described the alleged behavior as especially egregious, decrying the practice and vowing to fight against wage theft on behalf of vulnerable workers wherever possible.
Additionally, the city’s lawsuit claims the defendant went as far as to intentionally misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid the scrutiny of a 2016 state labor investigation into many of the same allegations addressed in the complaint. The defendant allegedly shut down a previous incarnation of her operation that acted as a referral services for in home caregivers but the new company is now open to liability as it acts as a direct employer for the workers.
Under the law, the defendant could face as much as $2,500 per violation in fines as well as paying back workers for all their back wages, with interest and penalties. The city attorney encouraged other workers to step forward to help bring the defendant to justice.
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