See more of the story

The federal government is suing a Golden Valley home health care provider in search of back pay and damages for not paying overtime to more than two dozen nursing and patient care assistants over a two-year period.

The U.S. Department of Labor wants back wages "and an equal amount in liquidated damages" for 25 employees of Getch Inc., and its owner Gregory Getchell, who operates Amada Senior Care Twin Cities. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Minnesota late last month, comes after an investigation found that Getchell's company owed more than $75,000 in overtime back wages to the workers.

"All too often, we find home health care industry employers systemically violating overtime rules that deny workers their full hard-earned wages," said Kristin Tout, the department's wage and hour division district director in Minneapolis. "As industry employers struggle to find people to fill the jobs needed to remain competitive, they must take into account that retaining and recruiting workers is more difficult when employers fail to respect workers' rights and pay them their full wage."

A message was left seeking comment from attorneys for Getch and Getchell. Getchell's company is one of the more than 100 franchises affiliated with Amada Senior Care, which is based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and was founded in 2007.

According to the lawsuit, Getch tried to mask its violations by altering employees' pay records to make it appear that they received overtime pay as required by law. Instead, investigators discovered that the employer paid a flat daily rate to workers who provided live-in assistance with self-care and daily living activities. It is also accused of misapplying rules waiving overtime pay obligations.

The U.S. Department of Labor's wage and hour division investigated Getch's employment and pay practices from October 2019 through October 2021, finding violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and record-keeping provisions.

The allegations come amid stark worker shortages in the industry. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics in June reported that 728,000 health care and social services workers left their jobs while the industry had more than 2 million openings.