A lawsuit claiming the state of California and Los Angeles County owe overtime pay to more than 169,000 home health care workers will move forward as planned, a federal judge ruled on Sept. 28.
Plaintiff Trina Ray in June asserted a claim for unpaid overtime wages against the California Department of Social Services (DSS) and Los Angeles County on behalf of herself and 169,246 other home care workers, according to the Sept. 28 court filing.
The workers, who were employed under the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, were paid overtime at a rate of less than 1.5 times their regular pay rate from Jan. 1, 2015, to Feb. 1, 2016, the suit claimed. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) generally requires employers to pay overtime at a rate of at least 150% of regular pay.
However, overtime and minimum wage requirements only recently became effective for in-home care workers.
IHSS is a state social welfare program that provides home care services to older adults and people with disabilities in their homes.
Though the county government responded to the suit by claiming it was immune, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson did not agree, and said the county and the state were “joint employers” of the home care workers.
“While the court is sympathetic to the apparent inequity of making the county liable for overtime payments that the state directed that the counties not provide until Feb. 1, 2016, through a payroll system controlled and administered by the state, that inequity does not overcome the…factors that weigh in favor of denying Eleventh Amendment immunity to the county,” Anderson wrote.
Anderson delayed ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion for conditional certification on the chance that the county might appeal the latest decision.
Law360 first reported on the lawsuit.
In-home care workers have routinely sought legal action against their employers since overtime and minimum wage coverage protections went into effect in 2015.
In June, a judge ruled an overtime wage lawsuit against Midwestern home health care provider SSM Health could move forward as a class action suit.
Earlier this year in April, home health aides sought class certification in a similar unpaid labor case against Centegra Health System, a network of four hospitals, physician care locations and specialty services providers, including home health, based in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Written by Tim Regan