October 2, 2015

U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds Federal Domestic Workers Regs

In Home Care Association of America v. Weil , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently upheld the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) revised regulations regarding minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain domestic workers.  The revised regulations (1) eliminate provisions that exempted third-party employers (e.g., home care agencies) from paying the minimum wage and overtime to domestic workers providing “companionship services” and (2) tighten the definition of “companionship services” under which all employers can claim an exemption to minimum wage and overtime requirements.  As a result, more domestic workers will be entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.  This could change if the U.S. Supreme Court chooses to consider an appeal and subsequently overturns the decision. 

USDOL issued the revised regulations in 2013, but a group of trade associations representing third-party agencies challenged the regulations in court.  In December 2014 and January 2015, a U.S. District Court issued two rulings in favor of the agencies and vacated the revised regulations.  The USDOL appealed and the recent Court of Appeals decision reverses the District Court’s decisions.

According to USDOL, the Court of Appeals opinion becomes effective 52 days after it was issued (October 12, 2015), at which point the revised regulations take effect. The department has asked the court to make the opinion effective at an earlier date and the home care associations have asked the court to delay the date while they seek review by the Supreme Court.  To date, both requests are pending.  Regardless of the court’s decision regarding these requests, the USDOL will not begin enforcing the new regulations until 30 days after the Court of Appeals’ opinion becomes effective.