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Overtime Class Action Settled Against Emeritus Senior Living


Many companies these days are looking to cut costs by laying off workers and forcing the employees they have left to work longer hours for less pay. This often results in illegal business practices of making employees work overtime without the proper overtime compensation or, in some cases, without even earning the legally mandated minimum wage.

According to the allegations in a recent class action lawsuit, companies that own and run assisted living facilities are not exempt from the strive for higher profits. The lawsuit is against Emeritus Senior Living, the country’s largest assisted living company, and it alleges that hands-on workers at the company’s facilities have been short changed in their paychecks. Further, the lawsuit alleges that the company violated state laws regarding mandated meal times and rest breaks.

ProPublica and PBS Frontline recently conducted an investigation into Emeritus’s practices which showed that the company’s top executives allegedly believed that controlling labor costs was key to sustaining the publicly traded company’s financial success and maintaining appeal to Wall Street investors. As a result, senior officials at Emeritus decided to cut their labor costs. This has resulted in alleged under staffing at many of Emeritus’s facilities and dissatisfaction among the employees who were left that have been stuck with alleged heavier workload and low wages.

Despite having recently settled the case for up to $2.2 million, Emeritus has continued to deny the allegations of the lawsuit, both in the media and in court. It insists that its almost 500 facilities nationwide are adequately staffed and that all of its workers are properly compensated. The company further asserts that “we strive to be the employer of choice” according to a statement made by the company to ProPublica. “We are competing to hire the very best staff that we can, and we are committed to our community teams. We work to be competitive in terms of total compensation within our industry, and we conduct wage analysis in markets in an effort to stay at or in line with the competition.

Despite these assertions, many companies, in a variety of industries, have been trying to undercut their competitors by cutting costs in areas such as the wages they pay their employees. At the same time, it is commonly understood that lower wages leads to lower morale and a higher turnover rate among employees.

Experts in the assisted living industry say that low wages paid to employees by companies have produced a workforce that is often poorly trained. According to J. Kevin Eckert, a researcher from the Center for Aging Studies at the University of Maryland, many of these workers “haven’t graduated high school, are often immigrants, and earn roughly $20,000 a year. Many are single parents that have complicated lives. And they’re often leaving one job because they can earn fifty cents more somewhere else.”

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2011 by two employees at one of Emeritus’s California facilities and it alleged that the company regularly denied its workforce wages it was legally owed. The lawsuit was granted class action status and the proposed settlement is now available to hundreds of employees who worked at more than 50 of the company’s California facilities from 2007 to 2013. These workers include non-salaried aides and support staff who performed such tasks as bathing and feeding the elderly, administered medications, and cleaned the hallways and restrooms of the facilities.

The Illinois class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against hospitals, senior and assisted living centers and large doctor and dental practices and chains for erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online by filling in the form at the side of this blog.

The Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Romeville and Park Ridge. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, McHenry Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Orland Park and Elgin overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.