Griswold Home Care's Connecticut headquarters in Stratford. Griswold Home Care’s Connecticut headquarters in Stratford. Photo: Google

A prospective collective and class action lawsuit has been filed against the country’s oldest nonmedical home care franchiser, alleging its Connecticut branch failed to pay overtime and unlawfully deducted wages from approximately 400 home health aides.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleges Griswold Home Care, which is headquartered in Pennsylvania but has franchises throughout the country, including Connecticut, violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Connecticut General Statutes. It names as defendants Cathy Howard and her daughter, Maria Malafronte, who own several Griswold franchises in Connecticut.

Howard and Malafronte did not respond to messages left Friday at their Stratford office. And Griwsold, which is headquartered in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, had not assigned an attorney to represent it in the Connecticut suit as of Friday. The company also doesn’t have a legal department. Its compliance manager, Cathy Reilly, said any comment would have to come from Matthew Murphy, Griswold’s president and chief executive officer, who did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bridgeport resident Ionie Scott, who was employed as a home health aide from February 2017 through October 2018. In that role, the lawsuit says, Scott would provide home health care services, such as bathing and grooming, to elderly and disabled patients in Fairfield County.

The lawsuit said Scott was paid $158 for each 24-hour shift and would be paid an hourly rate for those assignments that were not part of a 24-hour shift. The lawsuit contends that Scott and other health care aides in Connecticut would regularly work in excess of 40 hours weekly.

“Defendants failed and refused to pay any overtime to any of the home health care aides employed by them,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint also alleges Griswold never provided any information, either written or verbally, regarding Scott’s eligibility for overtime pay. It claims the company violated FLSA guidelines by failing to post that information in a common area that employees could access. In doing so, the lawsuit claims, the company attempted “to conceal its employees’ rights and discourage them from taking steps to enforce the law as its applies to their circumstances.”

The lawsuit also states Griswold promised Scott and others at least $10 a day for meals, but never reimbursed them.

The collective action covers home health aides who worked for Griswold from April 9, 2016, to the present, while the class action covers home health aides who worked for the defendant since April 7, 2011.

Collective and class actions share some characteristics, but the biggest difference is that in FLSA cases with collective actions, employees must opt in to a lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks certification as a collective and class action class. It also seeks liquidated damages and pre- and postjudgment interest. It alleges three causes of action: failure to pay overtime in violation of the FLSA; failure to pay overtime in violation of state law; and unlawful reduction of wages in violation of the Connecticut General Statutes.

Representing Scott are Dan Getman of Getman, Sweeney & Dunn and Russell Wheeler of Charny & Wheeler.