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Federal court orders four Rhode Island medical practices, owners to pay $175K in wages, damages to 103 underpaid employees

PROVIDENCE, RI – Four Ocean State medical facilities in Providence and West Greenwich, and their owner and operator, will pay $175,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 103 employees to resolve violations of federal overtime requirements, after an investigation and litigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The employer will also pay $50,000 in civil money penalties.

The resolution comes as a result of a lawsuit filed by the department in January 2019 against North Providence Primary Care Associates Inc., North Providence Urgent Care Inc., Center of New England Primary Care Inc., Center of New England Urgent Care Inc., Dr. Anthony Farina Jr. and Brenda DelSignore in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

The consent judgment incorporates the court’s May 6, 2021, decision and order granting in part and denying in part the secretary’s motion for partial summary judgment. In that decision and order on summary judgment the court concluded that the defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to properly compensate employees for overtime hours worked and not maintaining accurate records of the hours employees worked, including defendants automatically deducting 30 minutes per day for lunch even when employees had already punched out for lunch.

In addition to payment of the wages, damages and civil money penalties, the consent judgment and order permanently enjoins and restrains the practices and their owner and operator from future FLSA violations. View the consent judgment and order.

“Sadly, failing to pay overtime accurately is a common violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Health care workers that provide essential services to the public deserve to be paid the wages they have earned,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Donald J. Epifano in Providence, Rhode Island. “The pandemic has led many essential workers – including people working in healthcare – to find employment that better suits their needs. Business owners and managers must understand that failures like these can hurt their organization’s ability to recruit and retain the workers they need.”

“The outcome of this litigation should serve as a reminder to workers and employers alike that the U.S. Department of Labor will take appropriate action, including litigation, on behalf of workers when their employers deny them the wages that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston.

In December 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 679,000 healthcare and social services workers left their positions. As the aging U.S. population grows and demand for health care services increases, employment in a variety of healthcare sectors is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030. That’s faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.6 million new jobs. These trends indicate that industry employers will find it more difficult to recruit and retain without being highly competitive.

The division’s Providence Area Office conducted the initial investigation. The Boston Regional Office of the Solicitor litigated the case for the department.

Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.