How NAHC is Pushing Supreme Court to Take Wage Case

Days after provider associations asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Department of Labor’s extension of wage and overtime protections to home care workers, one group is detailing its arguments crafted to convince the high court to consider the case.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and its co-plaintiffs brought their case against the DOL rule to the Supreme Court on Nov. 19, challenging changes made to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in August reversed lower court decisions on the rule, saying the DOL has the authority to remove an FLSA exemption for home care workers and mandate that overtime and wage provisions be extended to employees of third-party agencies.

In overturning previous rulings, however, NAHC claims that the appellate court misinterpreted an earlier Supreme Court decision.

“NAHC believes that this case has increased chances for being accepted for review, because the Supreme Court had previously recognized the importance of the public policy issue presented in the case when it chose to review a similar matter in 2005 and 2007 in a case brought by NAHC,” a news release from the provider association states. “In Long Island Care at Home v. Coke, the Supreme Court held that the ‘companionship services’ exemption could apply to employees of third-party employers. The Coke decision was the case relied upon by the Court of Appeals in its finding that Supreme Court foreclosed the argument that the plain language of the FLSA required the application of the exemption to all employees.”

Essentially, NAHC contends home care agencies should be able to maintain the exemptions to overtime based on the Coke decision. Further, NAHC stresses the issues in the case have significant impact and alleges that the DOL “has usurped the power of Congress in promulgating rules that gut the exemptions that have been in effect for 40 years,” and the case therefore merits Supreme Court review.

The DOL now has the opportunity to file an opposition to the provider associations’ petition, and NAHC in turn can respond to the opposition. Outside parties may submit briefs supporting one side or the other, as well.

“A number of advocacy groups for persons with disabilities have already indicated that they will file a brief in support of the NAHC petition,” the release states.

This petition period can take anywhere from 75 to 90 days, according to the release, at the conclusion of which the Court will issue a decision accepting the case for review or rejecting it. Meanwhile, enforcement of the DOL rule officially began earlier this month.

Written by Kourtney Liepelt