Seven years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Coke v. Long Island Care at Home, Ltd., which involved a home-care worker who sought unpaid overtime from her former employer. The Court upheld the U.S. Department of Labor’s regulatory authority to exclude Evelyn Coke and other home-care workers from federal overtime protections under a decades-old exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act, called the “companionship exemption.” Today, this regulation excludes approximately 2 million home-care workers from overtime pay.
Recently, the Obama Administration, through the Department of Labor, addressed this injustice by revising the regulations to grant overtime protections to this vast and rapidly growing group of workers. However, while most regulations take effect 30 or 60 days after being published, the implementation of the revised “companionship exemption” was delayed 15 months to allow companies to budget for cost increases. The new overtime regulations are set to take effect on January 1, 2015.
Recently, the National Association of Medicaid Directors (a voluntary professional association of state Medicaid officials) requested an additional 18-month delay to further consider the impact of the new regulations. This would mean a nearly 3-year wait since the new regulations were published.
Home healthcare workers deserve better. Comprised almost entirely of minority women, these people have been asked to sacrifice their own incomes to hold down the employer costs of home-care services. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is organizing an online campaign to oppose the additional delay.
We will continue to monitor legislative developments in this area. If you work in the home healthcare field or other industry and believe you have been wrongfully denied wages and overtime, please give us call – we’ll be happy to discuss your situation with you.