According to PBS.org, there are an estimated 76.4 million people who belong to the baby boomer generation. As these individuals retire and continue to age, a significant percentage will likely require some type of nursing care and assistance. As a direct result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be increased demand for home and personal care professionals.
Today, an estimated two million people in the U.S. earn a living working as home care aides. The majority of these workers are women and a significant percentage are minorities who were not born in the U.S. For these workers, the long hours spent caring for others is often both demanding and rewarding. Many work long hours, making personal sacrifices to ensure for the safety and health of their clients.
Despite the frequent hours of overtime many home care aides put in, a 2009 study by the National Employment Law Project found that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of respondents reported being the victims of wage theft. Consequently, many home and personal care workers end up earning less than minimum wage.
While some states have taken steps to crack down on unfair labor practices and wage theft, employers routinely ignore and fail to inform employees about new policies. Additionally, isolated working conditions and the feelings of responsibility that many home care aides develop for those for whom they care, creates an environment where it’s easy for employers to take advantage of and exploit employees.
Today, some home and personal care workers are taking a stand in court against wage theft and fighting back against crooked employers. For example, in recent months several notable home health care companies have been named as defendants in separate lawsuits. Plaintiffs in these cases argue that employers routinely and systematically engaged in acts of wage theft and failed to pay workers for both hours worked and sick time.
Residents in the New York City area who work as home and personal health care aides have rights. In cases where an individual believes that he or she has been the victim of wage theft, it’s important to seek justice and contact an attorney who handles employment law matters.
Source: International Business Times, “Home Care Workers’ Lawsuit Alleging Wage Theft Exposes Growing Industry’s Troubling Pay Practices,” Cole Stangler, June 16, 2015