Enforcement of Home Care Final FLSA Rule begins on January 1, 2016 based on U.S. Court of Appeals Ruling

The Department of Labor issued the Home Care Final Rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to almost 2 million home care workers. The rule was challenged in federal court, but on August 21, 2015, a federal Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion affirming the validity of the Final Rule. This opinion upholding the Home Care Final Rule became effective on October 13, 2015, when the U.S. Court of Appeals issued its mandate.

Background:

The Department of Labor issued the Home Care Final Rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to almost 2 million home care workers. The Home Care Final Rule, issued on October 1, 2013, had an effective date of January 1, 2015.

In June 2014, associations of home care companies filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Final Rule. In December 2014 and January 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon issued opinions and orders vacating the Final Rule’s revised third party regulation and revised definition of companionship services, respectively.

The Department of Labor filed an appeal of the district court’s orders to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is Home Care Association of America v. Weil, No. 15-5018 (D.C. Cir.). On August 21, 2015, the Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion affirming the validity of the Final Rule and reversing the district court’s orders.

Because of the district court orders, the Department could not begin enforcement of the Final Rule on January 1, 2015, and because the Court of Appeals opinion did not take effect immediately, it could not begin enforcement on August 21, 2015, either. The home care associations asked the Court of Appeals and the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to delay the date the Court of Appeals opinion would become effective, but both requests were denied. The Court of Appeals opinion reversing the district court’s orders became effective on October 13, 2015, when the Court of Appeals issued its mandate. The Department did not begin enforcement of the Final Rule until 30 days after that date, which means November 12, 2015. From November 12 through December 31, 2015, the Department was in the second phase of the time-limited non-enforcement policy it announced in October 2014, during which it exercised prosecutorial discretion in determining whether to bring enforcement actions, with particular consideration given to the extent to which States and other entities had made good faith efforts to bring their home care programs into compliance with the FLSA since the promulgation of the Final Rule.

As of January 1, 2016, DOL will strategically use their enforcement resources, including complaint-based and agency-initiated investigations, to achieve compliance with these new important protections.

U.S. Court of Appeals Decision, August 21, 2015

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