Apella Health Management applied exemption incorrectly, despite workers not meeting criteria

COLUMBIA, South Carolina—A U.S. Department of Labor investigation has recovered $139,975 in back wages from a Spartanburg home healthcare provider that wrongly exempted 29 employees from overtime and failed to pay them proper wages in violation of federal regulations.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigators found Apella Health Management, operating as Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, listed some occupational therapy and physical therapy assistants as overtime exempt and paid them on a per-visit rate when, in fact, they did not meet the duties test for learned professionals. By doing so, the employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying the additional half-time rate for hours over 40 in a workweek. Apella Health also failed to maintain records of hours worked by the affected workers. 

“To use the ‘learned professional employee’ overtime exemption, employers must meet several criteria and cannot apply the criteria randomly,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina. “The Department of Labor is determined to protect the rights of the nation’s care workers, people who provide vital services to those in need and who deserve to be paid all of their legal wages and benefits in return for their hard work.”

In fiscal year 2022, the division concluded more than 1,100 investigations in healthcare industries. These investigations recovered nearly $15 million in back wages for more than 22,000 workers.

Apella Health Management, a nonprofit management company, became part of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System in 2018. The system has 157 locations throughout northern South Carolina and employs 10,000 employees throughout its medical facilities.

Get more information on how the Wage and Hour Division is focused on improving compliance by residential care, nursing facilities, home health services and other care-focused industry employers by protecting workers’ rights nationwide.  

Workers and employers can contact the division confidentially at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE (487-9243). The division also offers online resources for employers, such as a fact sheet on Fair Labor Standards Act overtime requirements. Workers and employers alike can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android or iOS Timesheet App for free in English and Spanish. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division.