CITRUS HEIGHTS --
Small home care providers say they are being forced out of business by the US Department of Labor.
That agency has performed several recent audits of those facilities in Northern California.
For more than 15 years, Frank Dickey has owned and operated a Citrus Heights home care facility for the mentally disabled, as well as two others for the elderly.
Currently his company, Sunrise Residential Care Services Inc. doesn't pay his live-in employees 24 hours a day, because he says if he did he would only be making an average earning of 72 cents an hour.
"They want us to pay the employees for their time off, and their sleeping hours which was not economical for us to operate," Dickey told FOX40.
However, Dickey and his wife say they do pay what they feel is fair.
"We have been paying above minimum wage all these years," Dickey said.
But after a rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday, three members from the home care group 6Beds Inc., have had US Department of Labor agents inspect their homes during a surprise audit which forced those facilities to close.
"We pay minimum wage, we pay overtime, but we cannot pay 24 hours," said Gina Wasdyke, the 6Beds founder and director.
Wasdyke said many of her members fear they will be next, making them strongly consider shutting down before they are fined by the Department of Labor.
"I would say 80% that I've spoken with that if this department of labor continues to enforce a 24 hour pay there's no way they can survive," Wasdyke said.
While Dickey's live-in employees would like to see an increase in wages, they told FOX40 not at the cost of hurting the business they work for.
"I just don't want to close the facility," said nurse Estalita Cailing, who lives at one of Dickey’s property’s.
The Department of Labor released a statement to FOX40:
“While we cannot discuss any ongoing investigations we are in the process of conducting, we have seen rampant wage and hour violations in this industry here in northern California, as well as employer threats and retaliation against workers who talk with our investigators.
"The Department of Labor does not conduct “raids”. We do investigate facilities where we have reason to believe employees are either failing to receive minimum wage, time and a half for overtime, or are subject to other federal labor laws. Since 2011 we have recovered more than $5 million in wages and damages that employers cheated their workers out of in the Bay Area home and residential care field.”