BOSTON (Mass.gov) – A Western Massachusetts home health agency will pay more than $85,000 – including more than $77,000 in restitution to 79 employees – to settle allegations that the company failed to pay the proper overtime rate and failed to pay workers for travel time, Attorney General Maura Healey announced.
Compassionate Healthcare Systems LLC, which began operating in West Springfield in 2016, and its owner, Wilberto Rodriguez, were issued two citations by the AG’s Office for failure to pay the proper overtime rate, and untimely payment of wages for not paying employees for the time between job sites.
“My office’s Fair Labor Division has prioritized addressing wage and hour violations in the home healthcare industry,” said AG Healey. “Home health aides provide critical services to vulnerable populations, and they, like all workers, must be paid their earned wages in full and in accordance with our laws.”
The AG’s Fair Labor Division began its investigation into Compassionate Healthcare Systems following action taken by the AG’s Office against Compassionate Homecare, Inc., a former Worcester-based home health agency where Rodriguez had previously served as Chief Operating Officer. In June 2017, the Fair Labor Division issued three citations against Compassionate Homecare totaling $646,714 in restitution and penalties for failure to pay timely wages and overtime, and failure to keep true and accurate payroll records.
In September 2019, Compassionate Homecare, Inc. and its owner, Francis Kimaru, pleaded guilty to charges brought by the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division. As part of that plea, Compassionate Homecare, Inc. and Kimaru admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from MassHealth by routinely overbilling and falsely billing for services that were not authorized or provided to patients. The AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division is also in active civil litigation in another case against Compassionate Homecare, Inc. over claims that the company stole millions of dollars from MassHealth by falsely billing for services that were not authorized by a physician.
The Fair Labor Division’s investigation into Compassionate Healthcare Systems revealed that when the company first began operating, it was paying employees a reduced hourly rate for overtime hours worked, in violation of state law. State law requires most workers be paid time and a half of their regular hourly rate for all hours worked after 40 in any given work week.
The AG’s Office also determined that Compassionate Healthcare was not paying its employees for travel time between job sites. Under the state wage and hour laws, employees are required to be paid for all working time. Working time includes any time spent traveling from one place to another after the beginning of or before the close of the workday.
AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing state laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage, earned sick time and overtime laws.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/wagetheft. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465 or go to the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for materials in multiple languages.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Goyer and Investigator Christina Proietti, both of the AG’s Fair Labor Division.