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Home Care Ass'n of Am. v. Weil

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

August 21, 2015

HOME CARE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, ET AL., APPELLEES
v.
DAVID WEIL, SUED IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, ADMINISTRATOR, WAGE & HOUR DIVISION, ET AL., APPELLANTS

Argued May 7, 2015.

Page 1085

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:14-cv-00967).

Alisa B. Klein, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellants. With her on the briefs were Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., Acting U.S. Attorney, Beth S. Brinkmann, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and Michael S. Raab, Attorney.

Eric T. Schneidermann, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of New York, Barbara Underwood, Solicitor General, Seth Kupferberg, Assistant Attorney General, were on the brief for amici curiae States of New York, et al. in support of appellants.

Kate Andrias was on the brief for amici curiae Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute and 26 Consumer and Policy Organizations in support of appellants.

Arthur B. Spitzer was on the brief for amici curiae Women's Rights, Civil Rights, and Human Rights organizations and scholars in support of appellants.

Judith A. Scott, Nicole G. Berner, Renee M. Gerni, Craig Becker, Lynn Rhinehart, William Lurye, and Claire Prestel were on the brief for amici curiae American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, et al. in support of appellants.

Jonathan S. Massey was on the brief for amici curiae Members of Congress in support of appellants.

Daniel B. Kohrman was on the brief for amicus curiae AARP in support of appellants.

Samuel R. Bagenstos was on the brief for amicus curiae the American Association of People with Disabilities in support of appellants.

Maurice Baskin argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief was William A. Dombi.

Derek Schmidt, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Kansas, Jeffrey A. Chanay, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Toby Crouse, Special Assistant Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Arizona, Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Georgia, Bill Schuette, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Michigan, Adam Paul Laxalt, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Nevada, Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of North Dakota, Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee, Ken Paxton, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Texas, and Brad D. Schimel, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin were on the brief for amici curiae States of Kansas, et al.

Stephanie Woodward was on the brief for amici curiae ADAPT and the National Council On Independent Living in support of appellees.

Michael Billok was on the brief for amicus curiae the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York in support of appellees.

Michaelle L. Baumert and Henry L. Wiedrich were on the brief for amici curiae Members of Congress in support of appellees.

Before: GRIFFITH, SRINIVASAN and PILLARD, Circuit Judges. OPINION filed by Circuit Judge SRINIVASAN.

OPINION

Page 1086

Srinivasan, Circuit Judge :

The Fair Labor Standards Act's protections include the guarantees of a minimum wage and overtime pay. The statute, though, has long exempted certain categories of " domestic service" workers (workers providing services in a household) from one or both of those protections. The exemptions include one for persons who provide " companionship services" and another for persons who live in the home where they work. This case concerns the scope of the exemptions for domestic-service

Page 1087

workers providing either companionship services or live-in care for the elderly, ill, or disabled. In particular, are those exemptions from the Act's protections limited to persons hired directly by home care recipients and their families? Or. do they also encompass employees of third-party agencies who are assigned to provide care in a home?

Until recently, the Department of Labor interpreted the statutory exemptions for companionship services and live-in workers to include employees of third-party providers. The Department instituted that interpretation at a time when the provision of professional care primarily took place outside the home in institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. Individuals who provided services within the home, on the other hand, largely played the role of an " elder sitter," giving basic help with daily functions as an on-site attendant.

Since the time the Department initially adopted that approach, the provision of residential care has undergone a marked transformation. The growing demand for long-term home care services and the rising cost of traditional institutional care have fundamentally changed the nature of the home care industry. Individuals with significant care needs increasingly receive services in their homes rather than in institutional settings. And correspondingly, residential care increasingly is provided by professionals employed by third-party agencies rather than by workers hired directly by care recipients and their families.

In response to those developments, the Department recently adopted regulations reversing its position on whether the FLSA's companionship-services and live-in worker exemptions should reach employees of third-party agencies who are assigned to provide care in a home. The new regulations remove those employees from the exemptions and bring them within the Act's minimum-wage and overtime protections. The regulations thus give those employees the same FLSA protections afforded to their counterparts who provide largely the same services in an institutional setting.

Appellees, three associations of home care agencies, challenged the Department's extension of the FLSA's minimum-wage and overtime provisions to employees of third-party agencies who provide companionship services and live-in care within a home. The district court invalidated the Department's new regulations, concluding that they contravene the terms of the FLSA exemptions. We disagree. The Supreme Court's decision in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, 551 U.S. 158, 127 S.Ct. 2339, 168 L.Ed.2d 54 (2007), confirms that the Act vests the Department with discretion to apply (or not to apply) the companionship-services and live-in exemptions to employees of third-party agencies. The Department's decision to extend the FLSA's protections to those employees is ...


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