On Dec. 17, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that dozens of caregivers in California would be paid a combined total of $637,048 for minimum and overtime back wages and liquidated damages. According to a federal investigation, the 24 Filipino workers received less than $5 an hour despite working 11-hour days, five or six days a week.

The two-year federal investigation began in February 2012 when authorities began to suspect that five care facilities in the Bay Area were violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. Investigators determined that Laurelwood Care Home, Three Sisters Care Home, Three Sisters Care Home II, Retirement Plus of San Carlos I and Retirement Plus of San Carlos II had disregarded the Fair Labor Standards Act, a wage and hour law that requires employers to pay workers a minimum of $7.25 per hour.

In addition to paying at least minimum wage, employers are obligated to pay workers time-and-a-half for any overtime work that they do. The owners of the care facilities that were investigated apparently failed to keep proper records of the hours that had been worked by their employees. One of the caregivers was falsely classified as an independent contractor, which resulted in the worker being unable to qualify for many employment benefits that they should have been entitled to receive.

If a worker suspects that their employer is not paying them minimum wage and overtime pay, an attorney might be able to help. After looking into the details of the worker’s complaints, an attorney may be able to help file an unpaid wage claim. While filing a claim for back wages, workers are legally protected from retaliation by their employer.

Source: Redwood City-Woodside Patch, “Dozens of Underpaid Peninsula Workers Getting $600,000“, Renee Schiavone , December 17, 2014