A Delta health care center had to pay $201,000 in missing wages owed to its staff – including nurses – according to investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hours Division. 

The facility – North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville – owed money to 110 employees, according to the Labor Department. The health center calls itself the “health care hub of the Delta” and employs about 500 people. It did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

“Depriving healthcare workers (of) their full wages makes it hard for them to care for themselves and their families,” the Jackson division’s Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall said in a statement. “These people provide essential services to our community and must be paid every dollar they’ve earned.”

Federal investigators found the medical center was automatically deducting 30-minute lunch breaks from nurses without making sure they were free of work tasks during that time. Often, nurses were working through lunches to update patient records, according to the Labor Department.

Investigators also found the center failed to combine employees’ hours when they worked in different departments. That meant workers’ total number of hours worked to calculate were inaccurate, leading to missing or inaccurate over-time rates owed. 

Mississippi’s statewide nursing shortage is at an all-time high, putting all the more pressure on hospital and health care centers’ staff to do more with less. Registered nurse turnover rates in Mississippi went from 23.5% to 31.9% from 2021 to 2022, meaning almost a third of RNs left their jobs last year. 

In her statement, Hall reminded health care facilities that they could avoid costly errors by asking for help from the local Wage and Hour Division. 

Employees and employers can contact the Wage and Hour Division at its toll-free number, 1-866-4-US-WAGE, for questions or to report missing wages. 

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