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September 22, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Labor Dept. accuses Yonkers care facility of cheating on overtime pay

For the third time in 11 years, the U.S. Department of Labor has accused Regency Extended Care Center in Yonkers of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The DOL sued Regency, its parent company – Hudson View Care Center Inc. – and owner Michael Melnicke on Sept. 14 in White Plains federal court. They are charged with failure to pay overtime compensation to 83 current or former employees and failure to keep accurate records.

The agency called the actions willful because Regency has a “history of violations.”

Melnicke was observing Sukkot, a Jewish holiday, and unavailable to respond to a request for his side of the story as of press time, according to Thelma Adams.

Regency operates a 315-bed facility at 65 Ashburton Ave. It provides short- and long-term rehabilitation services to elderly, handicapped and chronically ill patients.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rates Regency as above average for staffing, with four out of five stars, and average overall, with three out of five stars.

The complaint concerns registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants and housekeepers who worked at Regency from April 2014 to April 2017.

Their hourly pay ranged from $11 to $31 an hour. But they routinely worked 42 to 70 hours a week, the complaint stated, and were not paid for all hours in excess of 40.

LPNs and nursing assistants were often scheduled for eight-hour shifts for six days a week. Sometimes, they had to work double shifts. Regency automatically deducted 30 minutes per shift for meal breaks, according to the complaint, but employees often had to work during their breaks.

Many routinely worked before and after their shifts, according to the complaint, to finish their duties and update patient records.

One LPN, for instance, was scheduled to work a 64-hour week in January 2017, including three 16-hour shifts. She allegedly worked an extra 17 to 36 minutes a day, for a total of 66.5 hours that week, but was paid for only 52.5 hours.

Regency is also accused of misclassifying a housekeeper as an exempt supervisor who was ineligible for overtime. He was paid $18.98 an hour for up to 56 hours a week.

A similar pattern of overtime violations is alleged with 11 nurses and assistants provided by Exclusive Nurse Staffing Inc. The staffing company paid them based on Regency’s self-reported numbers.

The DOL said overtime violations were found during two previous investigations. Regency paid back the employees and “promised to comply with the (Fair Labor Standards Act) in the future.”

The labor agency is asking the court to order Regency to pay back an unspecified sum of overtime compensation, plus an equal amount in damages.

The lawsuit was filed by Susan B. Jacobs, a senior trial attorney based in the DOL’s Manhattan office.