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Georgia PCAs Should Be Covered by State Min. Wage Law, Court Finds

November 25, 2015

Georgia personal care attendants (PCAs) are entitled to coverage by the state’s minimum wage law, the state Supreme Court ruled on November 23.

The court’s unanimous decision in the case Anderson v. Southern Home Care Services (pdf) could allow thousands of current and former PCAs to seek back pay in a future class action lawsuit, according to reporter R. Robin McDonald of Daily Labor Report.

In June, lawyers representing four PCAs who worked for Southern Care Home Services (a subsidiary of the multi-state home care chain ResCare) argued before the court that their clients earned less than Georgia’s minimum wage of $5.15/hour after factoring in unpaid travel time between clients.

At the time, the PCAs were not covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and were therefore not entitled to the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25/hour. (A federal rule change has since been implemented extending minimum wage protections to home care workers. Home care employers will also be required to compensate home care workers for travel time between clients.)

The PCAs’ lawyers argued that their clients should at least be paid the state minimum wage. Lawyers representing ResCare, however, maintained that the PCAs are domestic employees, and are therefore exempt from minimum-wage protections under Georgia labor law.

The Georgia Supreme Court rejected that argument, since the PCAs were employed by the multi-national ResCare and not the individuals for whom they provided care.

“The Employees here were not providing ‘domestic services,’ because their work was not performed ‘in or about the private home…of the person employing the individual’; they instead worked in the homes of their Employers’ clients,” wrote Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmais in the court’s opinion.

A complaint filed concurrently by the plaintiffs could entitle as many as 11,000 workers to back pay for hours worked as far back as November 2004, Daily Labor Report said.

— by Matthew Ozga

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