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Briefs Supporting Home Care Wage Rule Cite Legislative History, Industry Change and Bias

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Several groups have filed amicus briefs supporting the Labor Department's appeal of rulings by a federal district judge that rejected its controversial rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to most home care workers (Home Care Ass'n of Am. v. Weil, D.C. Cir., No. 15-05018, amicus briefs filed 2/27/15).  Briefs were submitted by 50 Democratic members of Congress who declared Congress gave the Labor Department the authority to define the Fair Labor Standards Act's companionship exemption and by four states that asserted state Medicaid systems can afford to pay home care workers higher wages.  The National Employment Law Project filed an amicus brief on behalf of 27 home care consumer and employer organizations and policy advocates arguing changes in the home care industry during recent decades brought home care workers squarely within the population Congress intended the FLSA to cover.  The American Civil Liberties Union, filing on behalf of women's, civil and human rights organizations, contended the DOL rule remedied “a historic wrong—the exclusion of predominantly low-income, minority women domestic long-term care workers from the basic labor protections that other workers take for granted.”
In decisions issued Dec. 22, 2014, and Jan. 14, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated the rule (Home Care Ass'n of Am. v. Weil, 2014 BL 360258, D.D.C., No. 1:14-cv-00967, 12/22/14 and 1/14/15; 246 DLR AA-1, 12/23/14; 9 DLR A-1, 1/14/15).  The rule, which was to have taken effect Jan. 1, reinterpreted the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage and overtime exemption for workers who provide companionship services so that only workers who are employed directly by a consumer to provide such services would have remained uncovered by the statute. The judge concluded Congress didn't delegate to the DOL the authority to change the FLSA's statutory terms.  The Labor Department appealed the rulings and secured an expedited appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (15 DLR A-1, 1/23/15).  (click on link to read full story)

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