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Judge Strikes Down New Overtime Rules for Home Care Workers

January 30, 2015

A federal court in Washington, D.C. has recently issued two decisions striking down aspects of a Department of Labor regulation governing overtime pay for home care workers for people with disabilities. The regulation made most home care workers for people with disabilities eligible for overtime pay and compensation for time they spent traveling between two different service locations. It applied to all home care workers who were employed or jointly employed by someone other than the household in which they worked, which includes workers who are employed by a staffing agency and most workers who are paid through Medicaid home and community-based services programs.

Some disability advocacy organizations have previously raised concerns about how states might implement the new rule. Advocates were particularly concerned that states would rearrange workers’ schedules in order to avoid paying for travel time or overtime, and that these changes in schedule could make it difficult for workers with disabilities to get the help they needed when they needed it (for example, support in getting to work on time).

On December 22, the D.C. District Court ruled that the new regulations could not be applied to home care workers employed by third parties, such as Medicaid or staffing agencies. In a second decision on January 14, the judge ruled that the new regulation had too narrowly defined its definition of “companionship care,” thus giving overtime protections to workers who perform some other tasks like helping with health care or activities of daily living. The Department of Labor has appealed the decision.