Are You a Victim of Wage Theft?
If you are a caregiver, providing care to an individual inside their private home, special laws exist to protect you from wage theft. Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay an employee the legally required overtime and minimum wages. In 2014 the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (“DWBR”) became law. This law means that in-home caregivers are entitled to receive overtime payments for all hours worked in excess of 9 in a day or 45 in a week.
In 2023, most 24-hour caregivers must be paid a minimum of $488.25 per day so comply with the DWBR. The first 9 hours of work can be paid at the minimum wage of $15.50, for $139.50. Then, the law requires overtime payments of $23.25 per hour for the remaining 15 hours, for an additional $348.75. This equals $488.25 per day.
Most caregivers receive far less than that, often earning as little as $180 to $270 per day. A 24-hour caregiver who is earning less than $488.25 per day likely has a very valuable claim.
For example, if you are a caregiver working 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, for a weekly salary of $1,260, your weekly unpaid overtime claim is calculated as follows: Your weekly salary of $1,260 is divided by 45 hours to calculate a regular rate of $28 an hour. Your overtime rate is 1.5 times your regular rate, $42 an hour.
Your weekly salary does not pay any of the overtime hours you worked (any hours over 45 in a week are overtime hours), so each weekday you have 123 unpaid overtime hours at $42/hour for an unpaid overtime claim of $5,166 per week. Liquidated damages for a willful failure to pay overtime could add an additional $1,906.50 per week to the claim. Plus, the law provides for interest, attorneys fees, and penalties for former workers.
For this one week, this hypothetical caregiver has a claim of $7,072.50. On a yearly basis, the claim exceeds $365,000. We have helped many caregivers whose claims exceed $700,000 in potential damages when working several years.
Caregivers can file claims going back 4 years from the date a lawsuit is filed. Due to Covid court closures you may be able to reach back in time for about 6 additional months. We have helped many caregivers file claims against their former employers. Even if you last worked in 2020, you still have time to pursue a claim. The one exception, if your patient has passed away, a claim against the patient’s estate must be filed within 1 year of the passing, or sooner if an estate has been opened.
In our experience, some caregivers are hesitant to move forward with claims because they are concerned about their immigration status, or agreed to work for a day rate below minimum wage. In California, undocumented workers are still entitled to overtime and have equal access to justice through the legal system. Also, even if a caregiver agreed to a day rate below the minimum wage, the law does not allow the parties to agree to a lower wage.
Other caregivers fear the legal process, feel obligated to their patients or agreed to work as an independent contractor. All of these concerns are addressed in our article, Top 7 Concerns Caregivers Have in Asserting an Unpaid Overtime Claim, available on our website at www.caregiverovertime.com/top .
If you are a caregiver working 24-hour shifts and are receiving less than $488.25 per day, we would love to talk to you about your legal rights. We provide compassionate and confidential consultations. Please contact us for a free consultation at (818) 807-4168.
This article is an attorney advertisement written by Daniel Chaleff, caregiver attorney at Chaleff Rehwald Peterson in Westlake Village, CA. The law firm focuses on caregiver rights. Are examples are of a general nature and are not a guarantee regarding the outcome of your individual matter. Please call us at (818) 807-4168 for a free and confidential consultation. Or visit us at www.caregiverovertime.com to learn more about caregiver overtime law. We offer a 24-hour chat line on our website.