The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division announced that Quality
Care Nursing Services, Inc., Miami, Fla., has agreed to pay $55,377 in overtime
back wages to 11 employees who the company had considered independent contractors.
The misclassification and unpaid wages were discovered during a Wage and Hour
investigation covering the period from Oct. 12, 2000 to Oct. 12, 2002. After
interviewing the employer, the employees and reviewing time records, the agency
determined that 11 nurses and licensed practical nurses were employees, not
independent contractors, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
"This case illustrates a common error in determining whether a worker
is an independent contractor," says Jorge Rivero, Wage and Hour district
director, Miami. "In this instance, the amount of control the company exercised
over the way work was performed clearly indicated the workers were employees."
Rivero notes that although the company had written agreements with employees
to accept straight time pay for all hours worked, such agreements cannot supersede
federal law. He says company officials cooperated with the Wage and Hour Division
and agreed to issue back wages to the affected employees.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that covered employees be paid the federal
minimum wage of $5.15 per hour and time and one-half of their regular rate of
pay for hours worked over forty in a single workweek. The law also requires
employers to maintain accurate time and payroll records.