Earlier this week, United States Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) filed an amicus brief in the case of Home Care Association v. Weil, in which a group of private providers challenged the Department of Labor's Home Care rule that narrows the definition of "companionship services" and prohibits the use of the companionship exemption by third-party employers. In late December and early January, a Federal district court vacated these key portions of the rule. (See WICs article, "Federal Judge Guts DOL Home Care Rule," January 16, 2015.) The DOL has appealed the ruling, which is currently under consideration by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. (See WICs article, "Appeal Filed in DOL Home Care Rule Litigation," January 25, 2015.) Earlier this month, DOL Secretary Thomas Perez sent a strongly-worded letter to governors advising them to begin the work needed to implement the rule if the DOL prevails on appeal.
The amicus brief filed by Senator Roberts, and signed by nine other legislators, urges the Appeals court to uphold the lower court's ruling, saying that the rule will have "devastating effects" with limited benefits to any group of individuals involved. The case hinges on the legislative intent Congress had in drafting the companionship exemption contained within the Fair Labor Standards Act. The brief says, "The full scope of the legislative history makes clear that Congress created the companionship exemption in order to ensure that working families could obtain companionship services for their elderly or infirm loved ones.”
This most recent amicus brief stands in contrast to an amicus brief filed by a group of legislators who argued that Congress' intent in drafting the companionship exemption was more in line with the reasoning given in DOL's rule changing the scope of use of the exemption. (See WICs article, "Lawmakers File Amicus Brief in DOL Home Care Rule Case," March 2, 2015.)
Source: The Topeka Capital-Journal