A federal court judge in Ohio has ruled that home health care workers are entitled to overtime wages as of January 1, 2015, the original effective date of the rule change for employees performing companionship services. The court found that the Department of Labor’s regulation changes were effective and enforceable as of January 1st even though the appeal process was not resolved until October 13, 2015, and the DOL indicated that it would not begin enforcement actions prior to November 12, 2015.
What this means is that home health care agencies can be held liable for all unpaid overtime worked since that date. For those employed as home health aides, companions, and caregivers, this is a significant victory and could entitle them to recover thousands of dollars in unpaid back overtime wages.
Claim Filing Deadlines
Please click here for important information on the claim filing deadlines that apply to recovering unpaid overtime – http://www.overtime-flsa.com/claim-filing-deadlines/
In October 2013, the DOL created a Final Rule amending the regulations as they relate to “companionship services” with an effective date of January 1, 2015. These new regulations held that domestic-service workers who were employed by third-party agencies were no longer exempt from the mandatory overtime rules. Several third-party employers of domestic workers brought suit against the DOL in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia; that court concluded that the DOL exceeded its rule-making authority in eliminating the FLSA exemption for home health workers and vacated the rule. On August 21, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the district court’s vacatur. Following that decision, the DOL issued guidance stating that it would not institute enforcement proceedings for violations of the amended Final Rule until 30 days after the Court of Appeals issued a mandate making its opinion effective, which the appellate court subsequently did on October 13, 2015. The DOL then indicated that it would not bring enforcement actions for violations of the rule prior to November 12, 2015.
The Bottom Line after this Decision
While many third-party agencies that provide home health care workers changed their overtime pay policies towards the end of 2015 and began paying overtime, almost none voluntarily compensated their workers for the overtime they had worked since January 1, 2015. As a result of this ruling, home health workers in Ohio and elsewhere should have an opportunity to recover unpaid back overtime going back to January 1st versus October or November as argued by home health employers.
If you are currently, or have been since January 1, 2015, employed by an agency as a home health care aide, companion, or caregiver, and have not been paid time and a-half for all hours worked over 40 per week, you may be entitled to compensation for unpaid overtime wages. Contact our firm immediately for a free and confidential case review and consultation. Please use the form on this page or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 559-0400.