Caregivers awarded $1 million in back wages

Dozens of caregivers at several Bay Area assisted living facilities have been awarded more than $1 million in back wages and damages in suits brought by the U.S. Department of Labor in recent months, labor department officials announced Tuesday.

Wage and overtime violations are common for residential caregivers. Investigations concluded by the Department of Labor’s San Francisco office in 2015 have led to the payment of more than $3 million to 475 employees, labor department officials said. Between 2011 and 2014, $6.8 million in wages was awarded to more than 1,300 Bay Area caregivers.

A lawsuit filed in December against the owners of San Miguel Homes for the Elderly in Union City — Precilla San Miguel, Teofilo Cris Sanque and Ryan San Miguel — resulted in a consent judgment of $425,000 in wages and damages to 26 employees. The payments due range from $87.28 to nearly $60,000, according to court filings.

Investigators found “egregious minimum wage and overtime violations” for making employees work around the clock without paying them for all of their hours, labor department officials said. Employees would be paid a flat daily rate for only eight hours despite routinely working longer hours.

Another lawsuit filed in February against the operators of eight residential care facilities reached a consent judgment in March.

Razel Cortez and Elizabeth Palad — the owners of Walnut Creek Willows in Walnut Creek, Elzabeth’s Care Home in South San Francisco, Samantha’s Care Home in San Bruno, New Haven Care Home in Union City, Rayzel’s Villa in San Lorenzo and Villa San Lorenzo — were ordered to pay $643,992 in back wages and damages to 37 employees.

The back wages due range from $96 to $39,000.

Employees of those facilities were misclassified as independent contractors and were paid a monthly salary well below minimum wage because they routinely worked 60 hours per week, according to the labor department.

Both companies were accused of failing to keep adequate records of the hours their employees were working. They are required to post a copy of the consent judgment and notify their employees of their rights.

San Francisco regional solicitor for the labor department Janet Herold said in a statement:

“Dozens of Bay Area residential care workers will finally receive their hard-earned back wages, and damages, thanks to these court rulings.”

Other recent judgments for Bay Area caregivers include $176,000 for employees of a group of Pleasanton residential care facilities in June 2015 and $200,000 awarded to employees of seven residential care facilities in San Mateo, Burlingame and South San Francisco.