The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has sent a clear message to the employers of home-healthcare workers and redefined exempt employees as only those who are directly hired by the person or the person’s family and not an outside agency.
This ruling updated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) definition that groups all companionship or domestic service workers together without differentiating between them. It means that even live-in caretakers will receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. The outside agency must pay their employees at least minimum wage plus overtime.
The Court considered a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, that gave the Department of Labor the authority to interpret the companionship exemption when it implemented those standards. The DOL held that third-party workers were exempt, but Coke, a companionship worker, challenged that exemption and asked for minimum wage and overtime. Although the DOL upheld the exemption, the case set precedent in determining how the definition was applied. Thus, the Supreme Court agreed that the DOL had the authority to decide which workers were included and who was exempt in accordance with FLSA laws.