Court Upholds Home Care Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled in favor of the Obama administration, upholding the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) rule that narrows the companionship exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The three-judge panel on the federal court of appeals reversed the district court’s decision, affirming both the third party prohibition and the new definition of companionship.

“The department’s decision to extend the FLSA’s protections to those employees is grounded in a reasonable interpretation of the statute and is neither arbitrary nor capricious,” Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote in the opinion of the court. Srinivasan wrote that the Labor Department has the authority to “work out the details” of the companionship services and live-in worker exemptions, and the treatment of workers employed by a third party is one such detail.

In its response to the ruling, DOL says that they have “repeatedly encouraged states and other employers to take the necessary steps toward implementation.” The Department indicates that they have “led an unprecedented implementation program to help employers prepare for compliance, including offering an extensive and individualized technical assistance program, providing a 15-month period before the effective date to aid compliance, and adopting a time-limited non-enforcement policy,” and affirms that it “continues to stand ready to provide technical assistance to states and other entities as they implement the Final Rule.”

FMI: To read the ruling, go to$file/15-5018-1569088.pdf