OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, against Care Specialist HCS Inc., formerly doing business as TLC Home Care Services, and its prior operators, accusing the company and its operators of misclassifying in-home care workers as independent contractors instead of employees in direct violation of California’s labor laws and Unfair Competition Law. The lawsuit alleges that since at least 2016, the defendants’ misclassification of hundreds of workers resulted in extensive wage theft and caused workers to be denied basic workplace protections such as a minimum wage, overtime pay, meal breaks and rest periods, paid sick leave, and workers’ compensation benefits, among other benefits. The lawsuit also alleges the company misrepresented workers’ employment status to its clients, falsely telling clients that it treated its care workers as employees when it did not. The complaint further alleges that the company included non-compete clauses in its client contracts, which are void in California.
“Misclassifying workers is illegal and harms both employees and the state,” said Attorney General Bonta. “In-home care workers provide essential services to our most vulnerable populations, and they deserve to be treated fairly under the law. My office will continue to fight against worker misclassification and protect the rights of all Californians.”
The case was brought to the attention of the Attorney General’s office by the Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles. The agency, Care Specialist HSC Inc., which formerly did business as TLC Home Care Services, has been operating in California since at least 2016 and has employed hundreds of care workers during this time, many of whom are Filipino immigrants. Despite clear labor laws requiring that these workers be classified as employees, and the company’s own representations to its clients that it did so, the company has misclassified care workers for years, and has continued to do so even after being acquired by new owners in September 2022. This misclassification has not only harmed workers, but also has resulted in significant financial implications for the state, leading to the loss of considerable tax revenue. The lawsuit against Care Specialist HSC Inc. seeks injunctive relief, restitution, and penalties.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending workers’ rights, workplace safety, and California’s fair and competitive labor market. Through the Attorney General’s office, including the Worker Rights and Fair Labor Section, Attorney General Bonta enforces California’s laws to protect the welfare of California workers and legitimate businesses operating in the state. In December 2022, Attorney General Bonta joined 17 attorneys general in pushing for stronger federal protections against worker misclassification. In April 2023, Attorney General Bonta co-led a multistate coalition in submitting comments supporting the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule to eliminate non-compete clauses in employment contracts in most circumstances. Non-compete clauses are void under California law, and in March 2022, Attorney General Bonta issued an alert reminding employers and workers that non-compete agreements are not enforceable in California. Attorney General Bonta officially supports AB 1076, which would further protect employee rights by prohibiting non-compete agreements in an employee’s contract, and including a requirement for employers to notify their employees about the existence of these provisions.
Californians who believe they are victims of Care Specialist HCS Inc.’s or TLC Home Care Services’ misconduct should file a complaint with the California Attorney General’s Office at www.oag.ca.gov/report. Victims may also send a letter to: California Department of Justice, Public Inquiry Unit, P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550.