Home Health Workers Sought Collective Action Lawsuits Due to Recent Changes in Overtime Laws

Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2016 2:12 PM

Collective action lawsuits have resulted from recent changes in federal overtime laws, which have impacted home health care workers along with other domestic workers.

The case, Cowell v. Utopia Home Care, Inc., affected up to 5,000 home health aides and personal care attendants. These workers sought collective action status for overtime that was not paid for three-year period in six different states.
The plaintiff pursued overtime for that fell outside of the companionship exemption, which resulted from old labor rules that provided home health care workers entitlement to overtime and minimum wage protections, or not. However, a New York magistrate judge shut down the case.

“There were not common factual questions and answer in this case,” Davidoff told Home Health Care News. “A court would have to go through each plaintiff individually and determine through a ‘mini trial’ of each person to see if they met that exemption work rule unrelated to the care of a patient. …The judge ruled this is an appropriate case for collective action.”

The case largely reflects the constant effects of confusing overtime and wage rules within the home health industry. Since the Department of Labor (DOL) ruled that all home care workers are eligible for overtime and minimum wage protections, disputes over exemption rules could become far and few between in the future, according to Davidoff.

“It will clarify these legal issues for home health agencies, for sure,” Davidoff said. “On a go-forward basis, now in New York and nationwide, home health workers are entitled to overtime. That issue won’t be hotly litigated in the future.”

The most important step in defeating these legal issues is to have clear policies in place for your organization. Companies need to ensure their policies are clearly stated and compliant.

Corridor’s home health, hospice or private duty manuals are customizable to meet your state and organization’s needs. Contact Corridor to learn how our policy and procedure manuals can help your agency save time and maintain compliance.

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