$210,000 in Back Wages and Liquidated Damages for Minimum Wage and Overtime Violations by Aspen Nursing Services Inc.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Aspen Nursing Services Inc. has been ordered by a federal court to pay $210,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 22 employees who worked for the company’s home health care division, Aspen Community Living, in Louisville. The judgment results from a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“The Labor Department wants to ensure that employees who put in an honest day’s work receive an honest day’s pay. This employer profited by paying employees less than they were legally due under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Oliver Peebles III, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division’s Atlanta Regional Office. “Employers need to verify that their practices are in compliance with federal labor laws or face owing not only back wages but also additional liquidated damages. This lawsuit demonstrates that the department will use all enforcement tools available, including litigation, to recover workers’ rightful wages and to ensure a level playing field for employers who obey the law.”

The department’s suit arose from an investigation by its Wage and Hour Division, which found that the company failed to pay employees an hourly rate equaling the minimum wage, and employees who worked more than 40 hours in a week had not been paid the required one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for overtime hours. Instead, employees were paid flat rates, per day, without regard to the number of hours worked in each week. The company also failed to keep accurate records of employees’ hours. The violations occurred between 2008 and 2010.

The order was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division. In addition to requiring payment of back wages and liquidated damages, the order bars the company from violating the FLSA, directly or indirectly soliciting or accepting the return or refusal of any sum paid under this order, and retaliating against any employee in connection with the Wage and Hour Division’s investigation. The company is contacting current and former employees who are due back wages and making distributions to them.

Aspen Community Living provides home health aides to care for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities throughout Kentucky and Ohio. Corporate headquarters are in Roseville, Minn.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.

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