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April 03, 2003
Miami Nursing Service Agrees to Pay Back Wages

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.

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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.


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