Back-Pay Lawsuit Could Spark $150 Million Home Care Fight

Home care workers in Washington, D.C., have filed a second class action lawsuit claiming employers cheated them of wages, in a case that attorneys say could ultimately involve $150 million in damages.

The suit names four home care companies, which allegedly shorted workers’ wages, paid workers late, denied overtime and did not allow sick days. Such practices violate wage and hour protections that are in place in the District of Columbia, the workers’ attorney told news outlets Wednesday.

At least 130 workers are seeking back pay, according to the Washington Business Journal.

This is just the latest development for the embattled home care industry in the nation’s capital. A similar lawsuit was filed in December, involving 150 workers and three other home care companies.

The cases could grow to involve about 6,000 workers, raising potential damages to about $150 million, the Business Journal reported.

In 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovered $78 million in Medicaid fraud allegedly being perpetrated by home care businesses in the District. That sparked ongoing investigations of 13 home care companies by the Office of the Inspector General.

The situation in D.C. is part of a national controversy regarding wages for home care workers, which activists argue are too low.

A federal court stymied an attempt by the Department of Labor (DOL) to extend minimum wage protections to the profession. Workers have since organized to advocate for higher pay, as the DOL action continues to work through the legal system.

Written by Tim Mullaney