While home health care agencies have been focused on how regulations could impact worker wages nationwide, a lawsuit in Colorado has moved the ball on the issue in the Rocky Mountain State.
Under Colorado law, home health care workers must be paid overtime, a federal judge ruled.
In Kennett v. Bayada Home Health Care, Judge Christine Arguello found that Colorado’s labor laws necessitate that overtime be paid if the worker is employed by a third-party agency.
The Court emphasized that home health care workers employed directly by a family or an individual do not have to be paid overtime.
A class of home care health workers who were not paid overtime had previously sued their employer, Bayada Home Health Care, claiming that Colorado law necessitated time-and-a-half overtime compensation on all hours worked over 40 per week.
The case centered on whether home health aides are exempt from overtime protections under the Colorado Department of Labor’s Minimum Wage Order as “companion employees.”
The Court concluded that “the only sound interpretation of that exemption requires that the ‘companion’ employee is employed directly by the household or family for which the employee is providing services.”
Similar rulings have been made elsewhere in the U.S.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently upheld a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulation that makes in-home health care workers employed by third-party businesses eligible to receive overtime pay and minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The DOL previously announced that the ruling will not be enforced until 30 days after a federal appeals court mandates compliance. The plaintiffs in that case, including the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, have indicated that they may seek Supreme Court review.
The Bayada case involves similar issues as the one in the D.C. Appeals Court, but it is limited in scope to the Colorado, as it contains no federal law claims at this point.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson