US Court of Appeals: Home Care Workers Deserve Overtime Pay Under FLSA

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On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued an Order in the case of Home Care Association of America, et al v. David Weil; (No. 1:14-cv-00967, U.S. District Court of Appeals DC Circuit (August 21,2015)),  upholding a home care worker’s right to receive overtime pay and the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In Home Care Association of America , the Court was asked to determine if the Dept. of Labor had the authority to issue an opinion/modify its interpretation of the home health care exemption under the FLSA, or whether any changes required legislative approval. The Court unanimously held that the DOL has the authority to “work out the details” of the companionship services exemption and thus the Departments interpretation of the rule is binding and enforceable.

 

At issue in Home Care Association of America, et al v. David Weil is whether persons who work as home care workers/home care aides are exempt from the FLSA under the companionship services exemption. Historically, the DOL took the position that Home Care workers were exempt from overtime and the minimum wage provisions of the FLSA provided the employee spent more than 20% of their time performing “general household work”  or were “trained personnel.”

“Since the time the Department initially adopted that approach, the provision of residential care has undergone a marked transformation. The growing demand for long-term home care services and the rising cost of traditional institutional care have fundamentally changed the nature of the home care industry. Individuals with significant care needs increasingly receive services in their homes rather than in institutional settings. And correspondingly, residential care increasingly is provided by professionals employed by third-party agencies rather than by workers hired directly by care recipients and their families.
In response to those developments, the Department recently adopted regulations reversing its position on whether the FLSA’s companionship-services and live-in worker exemptions should reach employees of third-party agencies who are assigned to provide care in a home. The new 5 regulations remove those employees from the exemptions and bring them within the Act’s minimum-wage and overtime protections. The regulations thus give those employees the same FLSA protections afforded to their counterparts who provide largely the same services in an institutional setting.”

Home Care Association of America at page 5.    However, in this case, Home Care Association of America challenged the DOL’s authority to issue modify or change regulations and brought this lawsuit to quash the DOL’s new rulings. The trial Court issued a “stay” of the enforcement of the DOL regulations pending resolution of the DOL’s authority. The Circuit Court of Appeals resolved this issue and confirmed that the DOL did have the authority is interpret the law and the application of the exemption. Thus, the DOL’s regulations finding that home care worker’s are now entitled to overtime and the minimum wage are valid and enforceable.

As indicated in our previous blog discussing this issue, Dept. of Labor – New Rule Interpreting FLSA to Give Overtime Pay Protections to Home Caregivers,  we feel that this ruling will significantly impact those employees that work in the home health care industry and will finally allow the Home Health Workers to receive the overtime that they deserve.  However, it is important to remember that the DOL feels that the overtime requirement only applies to those employees that are working for third party companies and NOT those hired directly by the family.

If you have questions whether you qualify for overtime as a home care worker/home care aide, please call one of the overtime attorneys at the Law Office of JJ Talbott for free consultation, 850-437-9600.