PAWLING, N.Y. -- A Queens-based nursing home chain will have to pay $2,006,796 in back wages and damages to 844 underpaid employees at five locations in New York, including in Pawling, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
An investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division found that The Grand Healthcare System and its partial owner, Jeremy Strauss, failed to pay employees required overtime and for all hours worked at its facilities in Chittenango, Guilderland, Pawling, Queens and Rome between 2013 and 2016.
The back wages and damages at The Grand at Pawling is $315,137 to 298 employees, according to the department.The allegations are that the employer:
- Misapplied the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) executive and administrative exemptions to non-exempt employees, and consequently failed to pay them overtime
- Paid employees only for scheduled hours rather than the number of hours that they actually worked
- Failed to pay employees when they worked through meal breaks
- Docked employees' pay for short rest breaks
- Failed to include shift differentials in workers’ regular rates of pay when determining overtime rates
- Failed to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
Previous investigations by the division of the company’s Pawling and Rome locations, which were conducted between 2005 and 2013, uncovered similar violations. Those resulted in the company paying nearly $130,000 in back wages to 146 employees and $20,460 in civil money penalties, according to the department.
“There was no excuse for this company’s continued disregard for federal and for the rights of its workforce,” Mark Watson, administrator for the Wage and Hour Division’s Northeast region, said in a statement.
In addition to the $2 million in back wages and damages, the company will pay $133,470 in civil penalties to the department and take enhanced corrective action to prevent future violations.
The consent judgment, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and approved Dec. 5, also requires the defendants to:
- Undergo quarterly audits
- Implement an automated timekeeping system and management controls to ensure employees are paid for hours worked
- Provide employees, upon request, with a printed statement of the daily hours worked during the preceding two-week period
- Provide current and new employees with information on their FLSA rights
- Train defendants’ administrators and department managers at each facility regarding compliance with the FLSA.