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Home Care Association of America v. Weil

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

January 14, 2015

HOME CARE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DAVID WEIL, et al., Defendants

For HOME CARE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INTERNATIONAL FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR HOME CARE & HOSPICE, Plaintiffs: Maurice Baskin, LEAD ATTORNEY, LITTLER MENDELSON, P.C., Washington, DC; William Alexander Dombi, LEAD ATTORNEY, CENTER FOR HEALTH CARE LAW, Washington, DC.

For DAVID WEIL, sued in his official capacity, Administrator, Wage & Hour Division, THOMAS E. PEREZ, sued in his official capacity, Secretary, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Defendants: Julie Shana Saltman, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch, Washington, DC.

Page 124

MEMORANDUM OPINION

[Dkt. #23]

RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge.

On December 22, 2014, I issued an Opinion and Order vacating the Third Party Employment provision of the Department of Labor's October 2013 regulations implementing the 1974 Amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 201-19, because the rule conflicted with the statute itself. Dec. 22, 2014 Mem. Op. (" Dec. 22 Op." ) [Dkt. #21]; Dec. 22, 2014 Order [Dkt. #22]. Before me now is another challenge by the same plaintiffs[1] to a different part of the same Labor Department regulations. Specifically, plaintiffs seek to vacate the Department of Labor's narrowed definition of " companionship services," Section 552.6 of the new rule, promulgated in 78 Fed.Reg. 60,557, and to be codified at 29 C.F.R. § 552.6.

On December 24, 2014, plaintiffs moved for emergency injunctive relief to keep Section 552.6 from coming into effect on January 1, 2015. Emergency Mot. for Temporary Stay of Agency Action and Req. for Expedited Consideration (" Pls.' Mot." ) [Dkt. #23]. I granted a Temporary Restraining Order on December 31, 2014, staying the regulation from going into effect for fourteen days. Dec. 31, 2014 Order [Dkt. #26]. On January 8, 2015, having reviewed the parties' extensive briefing, I consolidated plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction with consideration of the merits pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(a)(2). Jan. 8, 2015 Order [Dkt. #30]. The following day, I heard oral arguments from the parties on the merits of plaintiffs' case, construing plaintiffs' emergency motion as a motion for summary judgment on the merits. See Morris v. District of Columbia, No. 14-cv-0338, 38 F.Supp.3d 57, 2014 WL 1648293, at *2 (D.D.C. Apr. 25, 2014). After consideration of the parties' pleadings, the arguments of counsel, the relevant law, and the entire record in this case, plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED and the Department's revised companionship services regulation currently scheduled to go into effect on January 15, 2015, is VACATED.

BACKGROUND

This matter arises out of the same statutory and regulatory background described more fully in my December 22, 2014 Opinion. See Dec. 22 Op. at 2-7. It concerns the second prong of a two-prong attack on an exemption from paying overtime and minimum wages: the companionship services exemption of the FLSA, codified at 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(15). I vacated the first

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prong, the third-party employer exemption, two weeks ago. See Dec. 22 Op. The second prong, of course, is the rewritten " companionship services" definition. The companionship services exemption prevents employers, whether third-party or not, from being required to pay minimum and overtime wages to " any employee employed in domestic service employment to provide companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves (as such terms are defined and delimited by regulations of the Secretary)." 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(15).

The Department of Labor's implementing regulations promulgated in the aftermath of the 1974 Amendments defined companionship services as follows:

As used in section 13(a)(15) of the Act, the term " companionship services" shall mean those services which provide fellowship, care, and protection for a person who, because of advanced age or physical or mental infirmity, cannot care for his or her own needs. Such services may include household work related to the care of the aged or infirm person such as meal preparation, bed making, washing of clothes, and other similar services.

40 Fed.Reg. 7405. The definition further specified that companionship services could include limited general household work, not to exceed 20 percent of total weekly work hours, but that it did not include services " which require and are performed by trained personnel, such as a registered or practical ...


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