A chain of Orange County residential care homes for the disabled paid their workers as little as $4 an hour and made them work more than 87 hours a week, according to a federal lawsuit.
In a settlement announced Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor said the facilities in Mission Viejo and Lake Forest were assessed $1.1 million in back wages and penalties for 66 workers after falsifying records and intimidating workers.
The three-year court case brought by federal officials also charged Lilibeth and Gerardo Ortiz, owners of the homes, with retaliation against live-in caregivers and licensed vocational nurses for filing complaints, serving them with eviction notices. Attorneys for the couple “coerced employees into signing false or misleading statements about their working conditions,” the lawsuit said.
“In addition to subjecting employees to oppressive working conditions, the defendants attempted to silence workers and prevent them from exercising their rights,” said Janet Herold, the labor department’s regional solicitor, in a statement. She praised “brave employees who come forward … notwithstanding the defendants’ concerted efforts at intimidation.”
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