The Supreme Court ruled Monday that home-care workers are not entitled to overtime pay under federal law.
The unanimous decision upheld a 1975 Labor Department regulation exempting the nations 1 million home-care workers from the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the agency did not exceed its authority when it left home-care workers without overtime protection and that courts should defer to the departments rule.
The decision is another blow to struggling, low-wage women, said Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Womens Law Center.
The overtime case was brought by lawyers for Evelyn Coke, a 73-year-old retiree who spent more than two decades in the home-care industry helping the ill and the elderly. Now in failing health, Coke said her employer never paid her time and a half for all her extra hours on the job.
Lawyers for Coke challenged the Labor Department regulation, and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in the workers favor. The appeals court said it was implausible that Congress would have wanted the Labor Department to wipe out protection for an entire category of workers.
The Supreme Court was wrong about what Congress intended, said Harold Craig Becker, the lead attorney for Coke. He said there is hope that a new administration in Washington would see the issue differently, or that Congress will act. The Labor Department wrote the restrictive regulation after Congress expanded the laws coverage.
Paying overtime would cost billions, the home-care industry says. -- by the Associated Press