Labor officials: Group-home operator failed to pay overtime wages
The U.S. Department of Labor is taking a Cedar Rapids health care company to court over its alleged failure to pay overtime wages.
In a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the department alleges that Invigorating Services of 4080 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, and its owners, Erin and Armel Mushekuru, have violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The lawsuit seeks to recover unpaid compensation for the workers, plus an equal amount in damages.
Invigorating Services is a non-emergency medical transportation provider and the operator of group homes that serve elderly and disabled Iowans. The Department of Labor says its investigation focused only on the company’s activities during the two-year period from November 2020 through November 2022.
That investigation allegedly showed the Mushekurus repeatedly violated federal law by failing to pay their employees one-and-one-half times their regular rates of pay for the hours they worked after already putting in 40 hours over the course of a week.
“Invigorating Services arbitrarily paid some overtime, but not all overtime, because of the way it computed its employees’ hours worked,” the department alleges. The company is also accused of failing to keep complete and accurate time sheets for “numerous employee work weeks.”
As a result, the department alleges, the Mushekurus owe 26 of its employees back wages plus damages. The company might also owe wages and damages to workers not yet known to the Department of Labor, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction enjoining the company from any further wage violations as well as an order requiring the payment of wages and damages that have yet to be calculated.
The company has yet to file a response to the lawsuit. Erin Mushekuru declined to comment Wednesday on the department’s allegations.
In 2021, the Iowa Division of Labor sued Invigorating Services for the alleged nonpayment of wages. According to the department’s court filings, the company eventually paid the $207 that was earned by a worker in the fall of 2020. However, the department told a judge, a subpoena had to be issued in the case because Invigorating Services was not providing the requested records, and the wages weren’t paid until June 2021, after the lawsuit was filed.
After company representatives failed to appear in court, a judge ordered the company to pay $207 in damages.