Court of Appeals Overturns District Court Which Blocked DOL from Killing Longstanding Pro-Consumer Rules: NAHC/Allies to Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Where They Have Won on These Issues Twice Before
August 25, 2015 09:35 AM
On August 21, 2015, a three judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals announced its decision to overrule a federal District Court for the District of Columbia decision by Judge Richard J. Leon in a suit brought by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), the International Franchise Association and others. In that decision Judge Leon had sharp words of criticism for DOL, which in amending the overtime rules applicable to home health workers had taken the extraordinary step of abolishing certain consumer protections that have been part of the law and regulations for the past 35 years.
"We were disappointed in the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals," said Denise Schrader, Chairman of NAHC. "Left standing the decision will hurt consumers, particularly patients with disabilities and homecare workers, as well as the homecare agencies that both employ and serve them. However, we are prepared to take our case to the Supreme Court where we have won on these identical issues twice before--the last time by a unanimous verdict of the highest Court in the land."
In his insightful opinion, Judge Leon had put this sometimes confusing case in a clear light, writing:
“Millions of American families each day struggle financially to care for their loved ones who are either too elderly or infirm to care for themselves. Congress is now, and has been, keenly aware of that struggle for many decades. Indeed, as the baby-boomer generation gets older, that struggle will be shared by an ever-increasing number of families. The exemption Congress has provided third-party employers and individual families with respect to minimum and overtime wages has been, and is, a central component of Congress’s effort to insure that as many of those families as possible will be able to survive that struggle.”
“Redefining a 40-year old exemption out of existence may be satisfyingly efficient to the Department of Labor, but it strikes at the heart of the balance of power our Founding Fathers intended to rest in the hands of those who must face the electorate on a regular basis.”
The three judge panel, which included two men appointed by President Barack Obama and one appointed by President George W. Bush, justified their reversal in bureaucratic terms saying that deference should be given to supporting Federal regulations (DOL) wherever possible as written by government agencies.
"In our appeal, we intend to echo the position of District Judge Leon," said Ms. Schrader. "As always, we are taking the side of consumers, those with disabilities who will be most specifically affected and who believe as we do that they will have reduced access to care, and of the workers who are described as benefiting from the Department of Labor rule but who we believe will end up with fewer full time jobs and fewer dollars in their pay envelopes."