As previously reported by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) appealed the decisions of the U.S. District Court that invalidated the new rules issued by the Department that would have redefined the “companionship services” (provided by private duty caregivers) exemption from the minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court also invalidated the rule change that would prohibit the application of the companionship services and live-in domestic services exemptions to workers employed by home care companies.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has set a briefing scheduled for the parties that will be completed in early April. Oral argument before a three-judge panel has been scheduled for May 7, 2015. With such scheduling, it is very possible that a decision could be issued before the court goes on its July recess. Still, the timing of when a ruling will be issued is very hard to predict.
NAHC’s reply brief is due on March 30. Thereafter, it is expected that numerous parties will submit amicus briefs in support of NAHC’s position. Among the expected amici are disability advocacy groups, state Medicaid programs, members of Congress, and business groups. Among other things, those amici will address concerns that DoL supporters did not. Specifically, these supporters will argue that Medicaid rates control worker compensation and that these rates are not rising to cover the cost of overtime. As a result, worker compensation is likely to suffer as employers restrict working hours to stay within the financial constraints imposed by Medicaid rates. Restrictions on work hours negatively impact home care consumers as they increase the number of workers needed to care for patients and trigger worker dissatisfaction and turnover. A number of state Medicaid programs are restricting or planning on restricting working hours to avoid overtime costs.
A full discussion of the lawsuit and its ramifications will take place at the upcoming NAHC March on Washington. On March 23, a panel consisting of representatives from NAHC and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the Home Care Association of America and the International Franchise Association will be joined by our legal counsel in the lawsuit. For more details, please click here.