(KTXL) — The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) said it recovered $500,854 in back wages from four Sacramento-area home care providers who underpaid their employees.

The department said investigators from its Wage and Hours Division found that the companies “shortchanged” their workers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and assessed $26,469 collectively in penalties.

“The majority of care workers are women and low-wage earners who provide essential services for those most in need in our communities,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Cesar Avila in Sacramento, California.

“The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to holding care service employers accountable and ensuring their workers are paid in full and as required by federal law,” Avila added.

The DOL said the employers either failed to pay appropriate overtime or outright failed to pay employees for hours worked.

According to the department, one company failed to pay hours worked “despite some employees working shifts of more than 24 hours.” The DOL said that the company also “deducted hours employees did tasks such as preparing meals and cleaning while clients were absent.”

At another company one employee’s wages came out to $3.98 per hour, the DOL said.

A third company avoided paying overtime by not adding up hours worked across different locations.