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Home Care Industry Asks SCOTUS to Review Fair-Pay Decision

November 20, 2015

The home care industry on November 18 petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision upholding a federal rule change extending basic wage protections to home care workers.

The industry has fought the rule change — which requires home care workers to be paid at least the federal minimum wage as well as time-and-a-half wages for overtime hours — since the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) first proposed it, in December 2011.

On December 31, 2014, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the implementation of the rule change the day before it would have taken effect. Two weeks later, the judge vacated the rule entirely.

The DOL challenged the ruling on appeal, and in August 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — widely considered to be the second most-powerful court in the country — ruled in favor of fair pay for home care workers.

The home care industry asked the Supreme Court to stay that decision, but U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts denied the motion, and the rule change officially took effect October 13. (DOL began a period of enforcement based on “prosecutorial discretion” on November 12; full enforcement begins January 1.)

If the Supreme Court takes up the industry’s writ of certiorari, it will mark the first time it tackled the issue of fair pay for home care workers since the 2007 case Long Island Care at Home v. Coke. In that unanimous decision, the court declined to extend basic wage protections to home care workers, but ruled that the DOL has the authority to issue such a rule change.

— by Matthew Ozga

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