Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Peter A. Hatch today reached settlement agreements to resolve their joint investigation into workplace violations by Intergen Health, LLC and Amazing Home Care Services, LLC. Amazing and Intergen—which are under common ownership, share employees, and serve primarily Medicaid patients—are together one of the largest home care agencies in New York State. The settlements resolve violations of the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law and wage and hour requirements under New York Labor Laws and require the home health agencies to pay up to $18.8 million in restitution and adopt extensive compliance measures.
The joint investigation found that the home care agencies violated the City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law in multiple ways, including failing to pay employees when they used leave, disciplining and/or firing employees who used unscheduled leave, requiring employees to submit documentation justifying the use of leave even if the leave was for less than three days, and failing to provide a written safe and sick leave policy. The investigation also found that the agencies violated the New York Labor Law by refusing to pay the overtime premium when workers worked more than 40 hours in a week, miscalculating overtime rates, refusing to pay workers for time spent traveling between patient homes, among other violations.
“In New York City, we fight to protect all workers—including those who work in people’s homes,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Home health care workers care for our families and not only deserve Paid Safe and Sick Leave—it’s their right. To any company in New York City that thinks they can get away with withholding workers’ rights and violating our laws: we will hold you accountable.”
“Home health aides provide vital support to our vulnerable loved ones,” said DCWP Commissioner Peter A. Hatch. “Sadly these invaluable workers often face exploitative working conditions that violate important labor protections. We are committed to ensuring home health aides are treated fairly and will hold accountable any home care agency that denies workers their rights or punishes them for exercising their rights. We urge any worker who believes they have been treated unjustly to contact us so we can help protect their rights. I want to thank Attorney General James and her Office for their partnership in this important investigation.”
“Home health aides are on the front lines serving the most vulnerable in our communities, yet these agencies denied them the most basic form of dignity and respect: fair pay for a hard day’s work,” said Attorney General James. “These hardworking New Yorkers not only deserve the pay that was unfairly denied to them, but also the assurance that this will not happen again — and that is exactly what this agreement will do. I will continue my commitment to protect working families and workers’ rights as well as their wallets. Let this be a warning to all employers: exploitative and illegal labor practices will not be tolerated in New York.”
Under the settlement, Intergen and Amazing must:
- Pay up to $18,800,000 in restitution in two phases. In phase one, the agencies will pay $2,032,500 to compensate 6,500 employees impacted by the violations of the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law and four employees who were illegally fired for using paid sick leave. The agencies will also pay $5,200,000 to compensate approximately 12,000 employees for violations of the New York Labor Law. In phase two, which is being resolved in coordination with a private lawsuit, there will be a maximum payout of approximately $11,540,000 to “live-in” workers; this amount is subject to court approval.
- Implement new policies that are in compliance with the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law and New York Labor Law and that correct the violations in the companies’ prior policies.
- Stop requiring employees to submit documentation to justify their use of sick leave.
- Train employees on updated policies.
- Post and distribute the Notice of Employee Rights and obtain a written, dated acknowledgement of receipt from each employee.
- Appoint a compliance officer to monitor and report on compliance with the laws.
- Create a new employee manual with updated policies that must be submitted to the Attorney General and DCWP for approval and have it translated and distributed to all employees.
This case, which is DCWP’s largest Paid Safe and Sick Leave investigation to date, is part of the agency’s major proactive enforcement initiative to examine the home health care industry’s compliance with the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, wage and hour requirements, and other workplace standards. DCWP referred this case to the New York State Attorney General’s Office for a joint investigation after identifying violations in connection with this initiative. As a result of this affirmative initiative, DCWP has now entered into settlement agreements with 34 agencies. These settlements require the agencies to pay a total of $2.54 million in restitution to more than 11,000 workers, pay $155,000 in civil penalties, and comply with the Law going forward.
DCWP’s case was handled by Supervising Investigator Juana Abreu, Paid Care Advocate Amalia Torrentes, Research Director Sam Krinsky, and Director of Investigations Elizabeth Wagoner of DCWP’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards, which is led by Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Holt.
Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/workers or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for more information about the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, including the required Notice of Employee of Rights in multiple languages, one-page overviews for employers and employees, and the complaint form. DCWP also created a multilingual publication that provides important health and safety information for domestic workers and their employers to help them stay safe during CoViD-19—including recommended best practices to reduce and prepare for risk of transmission, paid safe and sick leave information, checklists for a healthy and safe workplace, and other City & State resources.
“Today’s settlement delivers a crucial victory for workers and a stern warning to employers, especially home health employers, who try to take advantage of their workers by denying them paid sick time and other key labor protections under New York City law,” said Sarah Brafman, Senior Policy Counsel at A Better Balance.“Our client and her co-workers worked day in and day out to provide care for those who needed it most, only for their employer to turn around and penalize them when they needed paid sick time to care for themselves or loved ones. We thank the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for taking a stand against employers like Amazing Home Care who systematically deprived workers of their rights and for seeking to make workers whole. In New York City, home to some of the strongest labor laws in our nation, no worker should ever be forced to choose between their job and taking care of themselves or loved ones.”
“Home care workers provide the dedicated care and attention that allow our loved ones to receive the assistance they need in the comfort and convenience of their own homes,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU. “These are heroes, who selflessly give of themselves to care for others, and denying them paid leave when they are sick is inhumane. We thank the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for taking a stand by cracking down on unscrupulous home care agencies who pocket taxpayer dollars instead of giving workers the leave to which they are legally entitled.”