NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A judge has ordered a North Providence doctor to pay more than 100 of his current and former employees $175,000 after a judge determined last year that he had violated fair labor laws by failing to pay them overtime.
Dr. Anthony Farina and his sister, Brenda Delsignore, the manager of his four practices, have three years to pay 103 employees for $87,500 in back wages earned between August 2015 and May 2021, according to court documents.
Those employees will also receive an additional $87,500 in damages, and Farina has also been ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for violating fair labor laws.
The payments are the result of a lawsuit filed in January 2019 that alleged Farina and Delsignore did not pay their employees overtime unless those hours were approved in advance.
The court determined last year that Farina and Delsignore violated fair labor laws by not maintaining accurate records of the hours employees worked.
Farina, according to the lawsuit, had a practice of automatically deducting a 30-minute lunch break from the hours of all employees who worked six hours or more, regardless of whether they had actually taken that break.
Several of the employees, which include medical secretaries, X-ray technicians, medical assistants and emergency medical technicians, were also told to begin working prior to 8 a.m., though they would not start paying them until then.
“Health care workers that provide essential services to the public deserve to be paid the wages they have earned,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Donald Epifano said. “The pandemic has led many essential workers – including people working in health care – to find employment that better suits their needs. Business owners and managers must understand that failures like these can hurt their organization’s ability to recruit and retain the workers they need.”
This is not the first time Farina’s practices have been under scrutiny. Last year, Farina’s license was suspended following an investigation into claims he knowingly exposed his patients and staff to COVID-19.
His license was reinstated a month later with little explanation from state health officials, other than that he was no longer an immediate danger to the public.
Earlier this year, Farina was also accused of firing and retaliating against a pregnant employee who expressed concerns for her safety while working at one of his practices.
Farina and Delsignore have both acknowledged and agreed to the conditions of the court order.