A federal appeals court has upheld Department of Labor rules that grant minimum wage and overtime pay protection to live-in home health care workers employed by third parties.
Three home health care agencies—whose employees help elderly and disabled people handle tasks such as bathing and taking medicine—sued the DOL, seeking a return to rules that, since 1974, had exempted live-in domestic service workers from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s () minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.
The law states that employers are not required to provide a minimum wage or overtime pay to “cooks, butlers, valets, maids, housekeepers, governesses, janitors, laundresses, caretakers, handymen, gardeners, footmen, grooms, and chauffeurs of automobiles for family use.”
DOL efforts to separate home health aides from that employment category began in the early 1990s, but formal rules were not adopted until last year. They were thwarted in December 2014 when a federal judge ruled that the department did not have the regulatory authority to change those pay rules.
But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously decided on Aug. 19 that the DOL does have the power to change FLSA exemptions for home health aides.
Judge Sri Srinivasan’s opinion in Home Care Association of America v. Weil stated that the DOL’s “authority is clear.”
DOL Wage and Hour Division Administrator David Weil was the defendant in the case.
A statement by the Home Care Association of America said the plaintiffs are weighing whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.