An assisted living facility in Coalmont, Tenn., has paid more than $151,000 in back wages to 15 employees, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Exceptional Enterprises Inc. violated minimum wage and overtime provisions, Labor Department spokesman Michael D'Aquino said in the release.
"The department's Wage and Hour Division determined that the employer had been improperly deducting time for sleep from employees' hours, resulting in minimum wage violations for the sleep time that was not compensated. The employer also failed to pay employees overtime compensation at one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked beyond 40 in a week," the release stated.
The release said workers whose shifts are less than 24 hours are considered to be working even if they are allowed to sleep or do personal activities when not busy. Employees required to be on duty for more than 24 hours may agree to exempt sleep periods from work time, but the Exceptional Enterprises Inc. workers fell into the first category, the release stated.
"The Labor Department wants to ensure that employees who put in an honest day's work receive an honest day's pay. Health care workers are among the lowest-paid employees in the nation, and this employer profited by paying these vulnerable individuals less than they were legally due under the Fair Labor Standards Act," said Astor Bruhier, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Jackson, Miss.
Bill Lingle, administrator at Exceptional Enterprises Inc., said he had not seen the news release. He said the settlement was reached after a complaint led to an audit, but he had no other immediate comment.