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Home Care Service Sued Over Pay Practices

April 15, 2010
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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against New York-based McMillan’s Home Care, alleging that the 10-year-old agency never paid overtime to employees who said they frequently worked 60-hour weeks.

The suit also says that the company unlawfully required workers to pay to clean their own uniforms and for certain supplies. It further alleges that McMillan’s repeatedly falsified or misreported pay data. The complaint names six-year employee Josefina Toledo Montero as a plaintiff and claims the class is “numerous,” since the company employs hundreds and the suit dates back to 2004.

“We care for people who are very sick, who need a lot of help, and we work very hard for very little money,” Montero said. “When we work long hours, the owners of the company should pay us what they owe us under the law, rather than keeping that money to make themselves richer.”

Home health aide work is the fastest-growing occupation in New York City, with the number of jobs expected to jump 41 percent to 115,200 by 2016, according to the state Department of Labor. But the overwhelming majority of the workers are underpaid.

Nearly 83 percent of home health aides surveyed in a recent study by the National Employment Law Project reported overtime violations, and 84 percent worked “off the clock,” without receiving proper pay. The median salary is just over $21,000, according to the Labor Department.

When reached for comment, the agency’s president, Yvonne McMillan, did not deny the charges, but said employees no longer work more than 40 hours a week.

“We just haven’t paid overtime,” she said. “The business did not afford us to. It’s no mystery in this industry.” 

Filed by Daniel Massey of Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

 

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