Home care services company sued by attorney general for misclassification



(The Center Square) – In a case brought to the forefront by Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles, Care Specialist HCS Inc., formerly doing business as TLC Home Care Services, has been sued by California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The suit alleges that former and current owners of the homecare providing company misclassified its care workers as independent contractors instead of employees.

“The State’s laws against employee misclassification protect all Californians. They protect workers by ensuring they receive the compensation and benefits they have earned through the dignity of their labor…The People bring this action to ensure that Care Specialist’s caregivers, who work long days caring for some of the State’s most vulnerable populations, receive the full compensation, protections, and benefits they are guaranteed under the law..,” the lawsuit stated.

California’s labor laws and Unfair Competition Law define significant differences between employees and independent contractors. The ABC Test is used for determining the actual status of a worker irrespective of whether a worker has signed on as an independent contractor.

Under the ABC test, a worker is considered an independent contractor if the worker is free from the hiring party’s control and direction as related to the performance of the work; the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and the worker customarily engages in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same kind as that of the work performed for the hiring party.

“Misclassifying workers is illegal and harms both employees and the state,” said Attorney General Bonta.

The care services company has employed no less than 800 workers since its operations began in 2016 to perform duties such as providing companionship, light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, medication reminders, and assistance with walking and other activities of daily living. The shifts ran 12 hrs or 24 hrs and the majority of these caregivers were Filipino immigrants. The alleged misclassification continued under new ownership from late 2022.

Workers classified as employees are protected by California’s workplace and safety laws, retaliation laws and wage and hour laws that govern minimum wage, overtime, meal periods and rest breaks, but do not protect independent contractors.

In bringing the action Bonta said, “In-home care workers provide essential services to our most vulnerable populations, and they deserve to be treated fairly under the law. My office will continue to fight against worker misclassification and protect the rights of all Californians.”

The misclassification of so many caregivers for such a long period “not only harmed workers, but also has resulted in significant financial implications for the state, leading to the loss of considerable tax revenue,” a release by Bonta asserted.

The California Department of Industrial Relations state “In addition to penalties that may be assessed for wage violations associated with a worker being misclassified as an independent contractor, there are civil penalties for willful misclassification. Under Labor Code section 226.8, which prohibits the willful misclassification of individuals as independent contractors, there are civil penalties of between $5,000 and $25,000 per violation,” indicating the defendants could potentially face millions of dollars in penalties, in addition to injunctive relief and restitution.



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