I have followed this story for some time and I am glad that the Home Care Association of America has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court decision that extended the overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act to most home care workers. The Association argues the decision conflicts with Congressional intent and other Supreme Court precedent. The case is entitled Home Care Association of America et al. v. David Weil et al., and is under consideration by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Association claims that the the D.C. Circuit’s revival of the USDOL rule that gives home care workers the same FLSA benefits that similarly situated workers who provide the same services in institutions enjoy conflicts with the Supreme Court ruling in Long Island Care at Home v. Coke, where the Court re-affirmed that home care employees who work for third parties are, in fact, exempt from overtime.
The Association contended that the issue before the Court this time was not addressed, much less resolved in Coke. That case did not address whether the governmental agency was empowered to stop companies from “availing themselves” of the enumerated statutory exemption that could encompass their employees. The petition called attention to the fact that the FLSA’s legislative history did not support the premise that Congress sought to limit the companionship exemption by excluding employees who work for third parties.
The petition stated that “this court’s review is required to resolve conflicts between the D.C. Circuit’s decision and this court’s ruling in Coke, which will otherwise result in unprecedented expansion of executive power to rewrite the FLSA.”
The organization also raised two additional questions for the Court to look at: 1) whether the D.C. Circuit erred in concluding the exclusion of employees of third-party employers was suggested by legislative history; and, 2) whether the new rule is unreasonable because the agency failed to even look at unaffordability and inadequate state funding of the higher costs that will ensue now for these services. The DOL has stated that the rule will bring roughly two million workers under its ambit of minimum wage and overtime protections.
I hope the Court takes this case. There is a fundamental conflict between what workers fall within the exemption and those that have been carved out of it. That is simply not right, nor does it make sense, from either a legislative history perspective or a regulatory perspective. Keeping the “new” rule will also, possibly, wreak havoc with a considerable segment of the economy.
Is that what we need?