October 7, 2015
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on October 6 denied the home care industry's motion to stay a lower court's decision upholding fair pay for home care workers.
The fair pay rule will officially take effect on October 13. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will begin enforcing the rule -- which will extend minimum-wage and overtime protections to home care workers for the first time -- on November 12.
In rejecting the home care industry's motion, Roberts did not provide an explanation, nor did he consult with the other Supreme Court justices, Lyle Denniston of the SCOTUS Blog reported on October 6.
In August, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit -- widely regarded as the second most powerful court in the country -- upheld a federal rule change promulgated by DOL that extends basic wage protections to home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
But in September, trade associations representing the for-profit home care industry submitted to Roberts a motion to postpone the D.C. Circuit's decision while it prepared a petition for a writ of certiorari.
The industry is still free to prepare that petition, and Roberts's order "does not necessarily mean that such an appeal, if it is now filed, would be turned away," Denniston wrote. However, Roberts’s denial of their motion seems to indicate that the Supreme Court will not revisit the case.
Although the DOL begins enforcement of the fair-pay rule on November 12, it will initially use "prosecutorial discretion" in determining whether to enforce particular cases.
When full enforcement begins on January 1, 2016, home care workers -- one of the fastest-growing, yet lowest-paid workforces in the country -- will finally be granted the same basic wage protections as nearly every other working person in the U.S.
-- by Matthew Ozga