Homecare workers joined with the National Employment Law Project on Friday in applauding an historic decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Labor Department rules granting federal minimum wage and overtime protections to our nation’s two million home care workers.
“This is a tremendous victory for the two-million-plus home care workers in America who, for so many years, were unjustly shut out of our nation’s basic wage and hour protections,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “We are thrilled that this historic ruling will remedy an injustice millions of dedicated, hardworking caregivers have had to tolerate for far too long. It will ensure that home care workers finally enjoy the same basic workplace protections enjoyed by most other workers in our nation.”
The court ruled that the lower court had erred in finding that the Labor Department had acted outside its authority in issuing the home care rule. The court affirmed the Labor Department’s rule and ordered the district court to issue summary judgment in favor of the Labor Department. The case, Home Care Association of America v. Weil, was brought by the home care industry in an attempt to invalidate the Labor Department’s rules, made final last summer after a years-long process. DC homecare worker Paula Wilson spoke a t NELP press conference in May to support the Labor Department rule.
The Labor Department’s rules clarify and narrow what constitutes exempt companionship services and provide that third-party employers, such as home care agencies, will no longer be able to claim either the minimum wage or overtime exemption for any home care workers. Today, the court upheld both of these rules.
The court’s decision corrects a decades-old injustice that has fueled poverty wages and destabilized an increasingly vital industry.
Catherine Ruckelshaus, NELP’s general counsel and program director, said that the organization “will be moving full steam ahead to ensure that states and employers implement the new regulations in a way that supports workers and consumers. ”
“We stand proudly with our allies from the labor, disability, older adult, and employer communities to voice our support for the long-awaited rules. We will work to ensure that these rules are implemented to benefit everyone who depends on the home care system,” said Caitlin Connolly, NELP’s home care fair pay campaign coordinator.