Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

Four California assisted living operators are facing eight felony charges related to wage theft, tax and insurance violations, according to local reports.

Search warrants at the four senior residential care homes were served Wednesday. Sara Abraham, Annette Sanchez and Julio Sanchez, the operators of Abraham Rest Home Inc. and Sanchez Abraham Corporation, were charged, along with Florinda Yambao of Floran White Dove Care Homes. They are accused of withholding around $2 million from 60 employees, a mix of unpaid minimum wages and unpaid overtime wages. To read more about the case, click here. 

The state’s residential care faculties for seniors can fall into two categories, and more than 75% are six-bed “board and care” homes for seniors, says Anthony Chicotel, staff attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. There were four other cases in the state in the past year where facilities have paid employees. Included are two skilled nursing facilities in Livermore, CA, that paid $172,973 in back wages and damages, but Chicotel told McKnight’s that it’s likely the general issue is far more widespread.

Without commenting on the specifics of the Abraham homes, Chicotel says that it’s not uncommon for California’s RCF employees to be immigrants with low socioeconomic status who spend several nights a week sleeping at the home.

“The learning part of this relates to workers who live on the grounds and wake up and take care of a problem,” he says. “It gets hard to distinguish when you’re on the clock or not. These workers are vulnerable and feel like they can’t complain. It’s almost predictable.”

His advice to assisted living operators, in California and beyond is: “Follow the law. Get acquainted with the rules regarding overtime and time and a half. That will immunize you from these types of cases.”