Home Care - United States - Compensation - Supreme Court Case Relating To Fees

Supreme Court Case Relating To Fees

For years, home care work has been selectively classified as a “companionship service” and exempted from federal overtime and minimum wage rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Supreme Court considered arguments on the companionship exemption, which stems from a case brought by a home care worker represented by counsel provided by SEIU. The original 2003 case, Evelyn Coke v. Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. and Maryann Osborne, argues that agency-employed home caregivers should be covered under overtime and minimum wage regulations.

Evelyn Coke, a home care worker employed by a home care agency that was not paying her overtime, sued the agency in 2003, alleging that the regulation construing the “companionship services” exemption to apply to agency employees and exempt them from the federal minimum wage and overtime law is inconsistent with the law. The Supreme Court heard the case in 2009.

In the court decision, the court stated the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1974 exempted from the minimum wage and maximum hours rules of the FSLA persons "employed in domestic service employment to provide companionship services for individuals ... unable to care for themselves." 29 U. S. C. §213(a)(15). The court found that the DOL's power to administer a congressionally created program necessarily requires the making of rules to fill any 'gap' left, implicitly or explicitly, by Congress, and when that agency fills that gap reasonably, it is binding. In this case, one of the gaps was whether to include workers paid by third parties in the exemption and the DOL has done that. Since the DOL has followed public notice procedure, and since there was gap left in the legislation, the DOL's regulation stands and home health care workers are not covered by either minimum wage or overtime pay requirements.

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