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Supreme Court allows DOL home care worker overtime rules to stand

October 07, 2015

In Sept. 2013, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule that extended the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum and overtime wage protections to home care workers (e.g. home health aides, personal care aides and certified nursing assistants). The new rule was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015, but it was blocked on Dec. 22, 2014, by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

The main issue that the courts addressed regarding the final rule was whether the FLSA’s exemption from minimum wage and overtime protections applied to persons hired directly by the home care recipients and their families or whether the exemption also extended to employees of third party agencies. The district court ruled that the DOL lacked “authority to issue a regulation that transforms defining statutory terms into drawing policy lines based on who cuts a check.” The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit disagreed with the district court and upheld the DOL’s final rule on Aug. 21, 2015.

The challengers to the DOL rule, the Home Care Association of America, asked the United States Supreme Court to stay the appeals court ruling until the Supreme Court could review a formal appeal. On Oct. 6, 2015, the Supreme Court refused to do so, essentially allowing the final rule to take effect.

Although the Supreme Court could review the case and rule against the DOL, employers of home care workers who have not yet taken steps to address minimum and overtime wage issues should evaluate their compensation policies immediately.

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