Cora* was hired by the CEO of a company to be her personal assistant. The CEO was an older woman still actively running her multi-million dollar business. However, she recently had surgery and needed help getting around to attend to her business, and keep her household in order. She hired Cora to assist her. Cora moved into the employer's mansion.
Cora shadowed her employer's daily moves, from the time her employer woke up in the morning, through the day's travels and work at the office, job sites, and various meetings, until the end of the employer's work day. Once at home, the CEO continued working in her home office and required Cora to be available to assist her when needed. This schedule rarely varied until the employer died in 2014.
Cora was paid a flat rate every week of $750 for being with her employer 7 days a week. In the last two years before the employer died, Lisa* was hired to relieve Cora so she could finally take one weekend off.
When Cora and Lisa came to The Law Offices of C. Joe Sayas, Jr., it was to ask for help in collecting a week's worth of unpaid wages (because, of course, the employer was dead). In evaluating the various tasks performed for the employer, Mr. Sayas found that both employees had been underpaid throughout the years they worked for the employer. Mr. Sayas then sued the employer's estate in court for the workers' unpaid wages. The heirs of the estate denied the claims for overtime wages, stating that Cora and Lisa were simply caregivers who provided personal care to the employer – an old woman in ill health.
Before 2014, only housekeepers were entitled to overtime pay for work beyond 8 or 9 hours. Personal attendants (such as caregivers and nannies) were not. Personal attendants supervise, feed, or dress a child, or a person who by reason of advanced age, physical disability, or mental deficiency needs supervision. The law changed when, beginning January 1, 2014, personal attendants became entitled to overtime pay, just like housekeepers.
However, employees who are supposedly caregivers prior to 2014, but who devote more than 20% of their work hours to other work (not just feeding, dressing, or supervising someone), are still entitled to overtime pay.
During the litigation process, Mr. Sayas methodically gathered evidence to support both housekeepers' claims that they were not simply caregivers but all-around household and personal assistants. A total of 10 depositions were taken in the case.
Presented with solid evidence, including a detailed application of state and federal employment laws, the heirs of the estate agreed to settle the case instead of going to trial. Payment in the amount of half a millions dollars was made in exchange for the dismissal of the case.
*Names are changed to maintain confidentiality.