US Department of Labor Files an Appeal in the NAHC Overtime Lawsuit
January 26, 2015 02:54 PM
On January 23, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed an appeal of the federal district court rulings that invalidated the DOL rules on overtime compensation to personal care aides. This appeal was expected as DOL has considered these combined rule changes to be one of its highest regulatory priorities. On December 22, 2014 and January 14, 2015, the federal court issued favorable rulings in NAHC’s lawsuit that challenged the validity of the DOL regulations that would restrict the application of the “companionship services” and “live-in domestic services” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The district court held that DOL’s exclusion of workers employed by third-party home care companies from the exemption violated the plain language of the FLSA that applied the exemptions to “any employee.” In its second ruling, the court held that the DOL’s new definition of “companionship services” was also invalid as the restriction on personal care services was contrary to the FLSA requirements that specifically include personal care in the definition.
The challenged rules were scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015. The court vacated these rules, thereby maintaining the overtime exemption standards in place since 1975.
Along with its filing of an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, DOL has asked the appellate court to expedite the briefing and argument in the case. If the court grants the DOL motion, briefing will be completed by April 13, 2015 and the case will be scheduled for oral argument. With that schedule, a June decision on the appeal is very possible.
In the meantime, home care providers that employ workers that fit the longstanding definition of ”companionship services” are not obligated to pay minimum wage or overtime compensation unless there is an overriding state law that grants such to the workers. Likewise, “live-in domestic services” employees of home care companies are not subject to overtime compensation unless there is a state law to the contrary. The original FLSA standards remain in effect unless and until the Court of Appeals issues a ruling reversing the district court orders.