Supreme Court Finds Companion Care Employees Exempt from FLSA Rules

June 11, 2007 ( - The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a Department of Labor regulation exempting third party companion care employers from having to comply with overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to the opinion, the FLSA amendments of 1974 exempted from the minimum wage and maximum hours rules of the FLSA persons “employed in domestic service employment to provide companionship services for individuals . . . un-able to care for themselves.” A Labor Department interpretation issued later said the exemption includes those “companionship” workers “employed by an . . . agency other than the family or household using their services.”

The Supreme Court said in its opinion the DoL “reasonably” filled the gaps for the definitions of domestic service employment and companionship services left in the FLSA originally. The high court further ruled the interpretation did not exceed the DoL’s delegated rulemaking authority.

The case of Evelyn Coke, a home care attendant employed by Long Island Care at Home, LTD., who sued her employer for unpaid overtime wages and challenged the companion worker exemption as being “unreasonable” had been presented to the Supreme Court before (See High Court to Decide Home Health Aide FLSA Exemption ). After the 2 nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision and agreed with Coke that the exemption was unenforceable, the high court threw out the appellate court ruling and remanded the case back with instructions to further consider the DoL interpretation.

However, the 2 nd Circuit again ruled in favor of Coke, leading her employer to petition for the Supreme Court to hear the case again.

The latest Supreme Court ruling is here .