Henry Ford pays $90,000 fine on pay violations

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Henry Ford Health System has paid $90,004 to resolve overtime and record-keeping violations at its main Detroit hospital, the U.S. Department of Labor said Wednesday.

The Labor Department’s Labor Wage and Hour Division determined the health system underpaid 22 workers in its cardiac sonography department at Henry Ford Hospital in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

“After we became aware of this situation, we took steps to make things right for these employees,” said David Olejarz, spokesman for Henry Ford Health System.

“Our policy requires all work to be performed while the employee is punched in. It is always our intent to comply with all Department of Labor regulations regarding paying employees for all work they perform.”

Sonographers would start work up to 45 minutes prior to their shifts to prepare for the patient workload but weren’t paid for that time, according to the Labor Department. The employees also frequently worked through lunch hours and breaks to complete time-sensitive patient diagnostic reports before the end of their shifts.

Federal officials said the health system docked the employees’ pay for 30-minute meal breaks that they didn’t take and failed to pay them for work they performed prior to their shifts, violating rules for overtime and record keeping.

The Labor Department ordered the health system to compensate employees for the back wages they were owed, and pay for pre-shift work and missed lunch breaks in the future. The Detroit-based health system is also required to keep accurate records.

“The Wage and Hour Division provides education and outreach services to assist companies in fulfilling their legal responsibilities,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Timolin Mitchell said in a statement. “As this matter underscores, employees must be paid for all work time.

“If patient scheduling and other patient care duties cause employees to start work before their scheduled shift or to work through a scheduled lunch hour, the employees must be compensated.”

Henry Ford Health didn’t have an immediate comment.