D.C. Home Care Agencies Hit with Third Wage Theft Lawsuit

Four more home care agencies in Washington, D.C., have been charged with wage theft, in the third lawsuit of its kind to be filed in the nation’s capital.

Alliance Home Health Care, Berhan Home Health Care, Immaculate Health Care Services and J.D. Nursing and Management were the agencies named in the class action suit filed Tuesday. The previously filed suits named Health Management Inc., Nursing Enterprises, Vizion One Inc., Capitol View, Human Touch, T&N Nursing Care and VMT Home Health.

The charges in all the cases are similar, alleging that for as long as three years, the providers withheld pay or overtime pay, or paid at rates that did not reach the living wage threshold, and did not offer sick days. The class actions together could result in workers receiving more than $150 million in back pay, according to the union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The latest lawsuit comes on the heels of a favorable ruling for the home care workers. Last week, D.C. Superior Court Judge Michael O’Keefe affirmed a ruling in the first of the three cases, saying that since April 2011, D.C. home health agencies have been required to at a minimum pay the District’s living wage.

The agencies charged in the latest suit all receive Medicaid funds. They should not be receiving these government dollars if they cheating workers out of pay, plaintiffs’ attorney Greg McGillivary, of Woodley & McGillivary LLP, said in a statement issued Tuesday.homeheatlh

“Judging by the sheer number of recent lawsuits against these agencies, the problem of wage theft and the number of people affected may be even larger than expected,” McGillivary also stated.

The controversy around home care workers’ wages is not confined to the District of Columbia. Around the country, home care workers have been engaged in a concerted effort to boost wages. Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—on the campaign trail for the presidential contest in 2016—is one of the most recent public figures to come out in support of this effort. The Department of Labor also has taken steps to extend certain minimum wage protections to home care workers, but this has been halted at least temporarily by the courts.

Written by Tim Mullaney