A Maryland Court recently issued an important decision in Pinnacle Group et al. v. Victoria Kelly concerning overtime for companion-care home-healthcare workers in that state.
Victoria Kelly was a companion-care home-healthcare worker providing care for seniors citizens and persons with disabilities for the employer, Lifematters. Ms. Kelly regularly worked overtime, sometimes up to 97 hours in a single week, without overtime pay. Her employer failed to pay overtime wages because the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts companion caregivers from its minimum-wage and overtime requirements.
However, companion-care home-healthcare workers are not exempt from overtime pay under the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (MWHL).
After filing a lawsuit against the employer, the parties reached a settlement regarding Ms. Kelly’s unpaid overtime wages. However, the employer disputed Ms. Kelly’s right to seek payment of her attorney’s fees and costs. Ultimately, Ms. Kelly was awarded attorney’s fees under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL), which allows for an award of up to three times the owed wage and reasonable attorney fees and costs.
This case is important because it stands as a reminder to employers that, in Maryland, home-care companions are entitled to minimum and overtime wages and ignorance of the law is not a defense to an employer’s responsibilities. Further, employers who violate the law may also be required to pay trebled damages and the employee’s attorney’s fees and costs associated with a lawsuit.
If you think you may be owed unpaid wages, the attorneys at Lebau & Neuworth may be able to help. For more information, contact us at 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.