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Calif. care facility that employs Pinoys slapped with $1.6M citation for wage theft

SAN FRANCISCO–The California Labor Commissioner has issued a citation amounting to over $1.6 million in labor law violations–including unpaid minimum wage and overtime–to Bedford Care Group, Inc., an assisted living provider with six facilities in Fresno and Clovis, California that employs many Filipinos.

Immigrant workers sought help from the Asian Law Caucus, a civil rights organization based in San Francisco, and Filipino Advocates For Justice (FAJ) in Oakland, who then assisted the complainants to file a formal complaint before the California Labor Commissioner.

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Upon uncovering the violations, Labor Commissioner Julia A. Su, ordered the Bedford Care Group, Inc., to pay $1,398,890 in unpaid overtime, $17,025 in unpaid minimum wage, and $95,053 in meal and rest period premiums to 11 current and former caregivers. The Bedford Care Group, Inc. was also fined $114,500 in penalties.

The citations were issued after the Labor Commissioner’s Office interviewed and completed an audit for the 11 caregivers from November 2011 to April 2013 to determine the amount of unpaid wages owed.

Labor Commissioner Su told PRnewswire online, “These live-in employees were on call and often required to work 24 hours a day and were not paid for all hours worked.  This is wage theft, and we will do everything in our power to ensure workers are paid all the wages they have earned.”

Thankful

The Bedford Care Group, Inc., whose principal/president is listed under Stephanie Marie Costa, as per the online record of Dun & Bradstreet, owns and operates six assisted living facilities within Fresno County.

On top of the fines and penalties slapped by the Commission to Bedford Care Group, Inc., ALC said that separate individuals claims for additional amounts owed to the 11 workers remain pending.

“Right now, we’re so thankful that God has sent good people to help fight for us, “Mercy said.

Mercy recounted that the elder people in the facilities also sympathized with how they feel about the long hours of work while earning less than the average minimum wage. “Even the (patients) we had taken care of were glad that we’ve been given justice.”

“Being a caregiver is not easy, “ Mercy said, “ They (patients) love us for the care and attention we provide. “

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Wage theft

“These caregivers were either actively working or on-call 24 hours a day, six days a week,” said ALC Workers’ Rights attorney, Gina Szeto. “Unfortunately, wage theft is a serious and rampant problem in the caregiving industry.”

Szeto, in a press statement, said, “Many caregivers who work in assisted living facilities do not know that they have a right to overtime, meal and rest breaks, and other workplace protections, or are too scared to come forward and make claims.”

In a teleconference with Szeto and Mercy told INQUIRER.net that the violations stemmed from live-in positions. Instead of working on the agreed time period, “We worked 24 hours a day,” according to Mercy, who worked for the facility for almost five years.

A lot of courage

FAJ community organizer Fiona Cruz, meanwhile, said, “These are an amazing group of workers. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for their rights, and they have been so united in the process.”

Thousands of caregivers may be in the same position as these 11 who came forward, explained Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). “Workers across all industries in the state should know that they are entitled to pay for all work performed and any employer who pockets the wages of their own workers will be held accountable.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office is a division within DIR.

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TAGS: assisted living, Filipino caregivers, labor laws, labor violations
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