Last evening, the Home Care Association of America followed in the footsteps of the Mortgage Bankers Association, obtaining a ruling that the DOL’s reversal of its position regarding the exempt status of agency-employed “companions” violated the Administrative Procedure Act.  Home Care Ass’n of Am. v. Weil, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176307 (D.D.C. Dec. 22, 2014).  The DOL had issued new regulations drastically curtailing the scope of the exemption, which were scheduled to take effect in January.

Judge Richard Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that the DOL’s prior regulations defining “companionship services” and “domestic service employment” filled the “definitional gaps” in the statutory language of 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(15).  “Once those definitional gaps were filled, however, the statutory loop was closed,” and the DOL exceeded its authority by issuing a new rule stating that companions employed by agencies are subject to minimum wage and overtime.  In reaching its decision and upholding the challenge to the rule filed by the Home Care Association of America, the Court found that Congress’ intent to exempt such employees from minimum wage and overtime was clear, and that there was no “explicit—or implicit—delegation of authority [by Congress] to the Department to parse groups of employees based on the nature of their employer who otherwise fall within those definitions.”