Last year when the new overtime rule went into effect, home care agency owners were asking about the consequences of not paying overtime. There was a lot of discussion about U.S. Department of Labor surveys, and how they could turn into fines and penalties. At that time, we passed on the advice of several home care labor law attorneys that the real threat is not from a DOL survey, but from class action lawsuits filed by plaintiff’s attorneys for employees.
Well, new information from NAHC and the Littler Law Firm shows that is exactly the case. In a webinar sponsored by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Angelo Spinella, an attorney with the firm of Littler, indicated that home care is the number one target for class action law suits. Nearly 200 lawsuits have been filed in 24 states. Louisiana, Ohio, and New York at the states with the most suits.
There are nearly 200 lawsuits in 24 states filed in Federal Court alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The states with the largest number of claims are Louisiana, Ohio, and New York.
It appears that many of the suits are against home health agencies that employed their home health aides or nurses on a per-visit basis instead of paying them hourly. While there are provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act and its regulations for paying workers on a per-visit basis, avoiding lawsuits around that approach can be tricky. One law firm has launched a class action suit against home health company, Amedisys, and is actively seeking additional employees to join the class action.
Also, the U. S. Department of Labor has focused on home health care, and has issued a number of fact sheets designed to help employees file complaints.
And, the New York Times has written an opinion piece from the Editorial Board titled, “Home Care Workers Can Finally Claim Victory.”
As a leader in home care, you will want to continue to watch this issue, and make sure your company is meeting the requirements of the law and regulations for paying your employees. A lawsuit filed against your company by employees will be expensive whether you win or lose in court.