Emeritus Senior Living, the largest assisted living company in the US, has agreed to pay as much as $2.2 million to settle a suit that the company routinely underpaid workers
Emeritus Senior Living, the country’s largest assisted living company, has agreed to pay up to $2.2 million to settle claims that it routinely underpaid workers at dozens of its California facilities.
Hands-on workers at Emeritus facilities – the non-salaried aides and support staff who state-wide help care for hundreds of often frail seniors – alleged in a lawsuit that the company had not only short-changed them in their pay, but also violated state laws concerning mandated meal times and rest periods. Workers were denied overtime and not properly compensated for days during which they underwent training sessions, according to the lawsuit.
A recent investigation of Emeritus by ProPublica and PBS Frontline showed that the company’s top executives saw controlling labor costs as critical to sustaining the publicly traded company’s financial success and maintaining its appeal to investors on Wall Street. The investigation found evidence that the zeal of senior Emeritus officials to cut costs had led to understaffing at many facilities and considerable disgruntlement among remaining staff about their workload and wages.
Emeritus, both in interviews and court papers, has said its close to 500 facilities across the country are adequately staffed and that its workers are properly compensated.
Under the settlement, which needs to be approved next month by a state judge, Emeritus will compensate workers who were employed in its facilities in California from 2007 to 2013. The workers can range from the men and women who bathed and fed the elderly residents to those who administered their medications to those who cleaned the hallways and restrooms of the facilities.
Despite the settlement, Emeritus rejects the accusations made in the lawsuit.
“At Emeritus, we strive to be the employer of choice,” the company said in a statement to ProPublica. “We are competing to hire the very best staff that we can, and we are committed to our community teams. We work to be competitive in terms of total compensation within our industry, and we conduct wage analyses in markets in an effort to stay at or in line with the competition.”
Assisted living, conceived two decades ago to offer older Americans the chance to avoid nursing homes and retain greater degrees of independence and dignity, has become a multibillion-dollar industry, dominated by large chains such as Emeritus. Today, some 750,000 people are housed in assisted living facilities in the U.S., with increasing numbers of them suffering from dementia and other serious medical issues.
Experts in the assisted living industry say the low wages paid to workers by companies like Emeritus have produced a workforce that often is poorly trained and beset by poor morale. The lawsuit, initially brought by two caregivers at a single California facility, alleged that the company customarily cheated its modestly paid workforce of what it was legally owed. The lawsuit was granted class-action status, and the proposed compensation is available now to hundreds of workers at Emeritus’s more than 50 facilities in California.
“When it comes to the direct caregivers, you need to hire people who are dedicated to their work,” said Sally Clark Stearns, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. “To do that, you need to pay people sufficient wages to have a stable workforce.”
J. Kevin Eckert and Erin Roth, researchers from the Center for Aging Studies at the University of Maryland who have studied the assisted living industry for more than a decade, noted that the quality of care delivered by large assisted living companies is intimately tied to how well the company pays its workers.
“I am always amazed by the commitment of direct care workers,” Eckert said. “But many of the problems in assisted living stem from the fact these workers earn minimum wage.”
“Many direct care workers haven’t graduated high school, are often immigrants, and earn roughly $20,000 a year,” Eckert added. “Many are single parents that have complicated lives. And they’re often leaving one job because they can earn fifty cents more somewhere else. That’s very disruptive. This is not the way to provide care in one of the fastest growing industries in the country.”
If you have sensitive skin, you may look for products with the words ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘allergy tested’ or even ‘dermatologist tested’ on the label. But what do these terms really mean? Not much, according to the FDA
What does the law say?
In 1974, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed regulation on the term hypoallergenic in cosmetics, saying that the term would only be allowed if manufacturers could provide competent and reliable scientific evidence that their hypoallergenic products caused fewer allergic reactions than similar non-hypoallergenic products. Cosmetics companies complained that the testing involved in following this regulation would pose an undue economic burden on them (i.e., they didn’t want to shell out the cash for it). The regulation passed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia eventually struck it down after Almay and Clinique challenged it.
Thus, there is no standard definition for the terms hypoallergenic, allergy tested, dermatologist tested, or dermatologist recommended. No standard definition = cosmetics companies can say it means whatever they want it to mean. After all, there is someone (or something, cue Twilight Zone music) out there, theoretically, who won’t react to a nice plutonium-based cleanser (the results on your pores are absolutely nuclear, darling!).
Why is it so hard to define?
Part of the difficulty with the term hypoallergenic is that people can have skin sensitivity for very different reasons. What irritates someone with rosacea may be very different from what irritates someone with acne, or very different from an ingredient that can irritate someone with ragweed allergies. The American Academy of Dermatology has a great guide to ingredients that may trouble people with certain skin conditions.
What can you look out for?
If a specific product seems to be consistently bothering you, check the ingredients list. Is there a particular ingredient in that product that is not in other non-irritating products? Eliminate that product from your regimen for a while, and try another product with the same suspect ingredient (but no other suspect ingredients). Did you suffer the same reaction again? Hello, science! You might have found the culprit.
Here are a few common ones you may want to pay attention to…
“Hypoallergenic” is meaningless on a label, but it may mean something for you. The Environmental Working Group and The Cosmetics Cop are two good places to begin researching specific cosmetics ingredients, and from there you just have to proceed by trial and error.
NSEL said these five defaulting members did not have adequate commodities in the warehouses, which is against the mechanism specified in the Exchange circulars
National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) said it has filed complaint against five of its defaulting members before the investigation authorities.
In a statement, NSEL said it declared its nine members as defaulters when they did not complete the last pay-in. "Amongst these nine defaulting members, the exchange has initiated case for investigation against five defaulting members who did not have adequate commodities in the warehouses, which is against the mechanism specified in the Exchange circulars. Non-delivery of commodities or its withdrawal is a breach of faith and breach of contractual arrangements," the release said.
The five defaulters against which NSEL has filed complained are, Ark Imports Pvt Ltd, Lotus Refineries Pvt Ltd, NK Proteins Ltd, Vimladevi Agrotech Ltd and Yathuri Associates. The four other announced defaulters are Loil Overseas Foods Ltd, NCS Sugars Ltd, Spin Cot Textiles Pvt Ltd and Tavishi Enterprises Pvt Ltd.
As per the rules and bye-laws, the Exchange has asked these defaulting members to submit their books of accounts and hand-over all the collaterals to NSEL.
NSEL has appointed SGS to carry out quality and quantity inspection of the commodities lying in the warehouses and their reports are being received in stages based on the inspection being done.
NSEL said it will also take similar recourse for other defaulting members who are not cooperating. As informed earlier, the NSEL board has already initiated investigation against the management team and its former managing director and chief executive.