The day most anxiously anticipated (or dreaded) by the vast home care industry in New York has arrived, and a huge sigh of relief from home care agencies and New Yorkers who rely on their services can be heard across the state. An industry that has been fraught with hundreds of class action lawsuits was given the green light on March 26, 2019, to continue to follow the New York Department of Labor’s (NY DOL) interpretative guidance and pay home care aides for 13 hours of a 24-hour shift, so long as the workers are afforded 8 hours for sleep breaks (5 of which are uninterrupted) and 3 hours for meal breaks.
Tuesday’s decision in Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc. and Moreno v. Future Care Health Care Services, Inc., reversed lower appellate court and trial court rulings that refused to give deference to the NY DOL’s interpretive guidance and directed that home care aides were entitled to compensation for every hour of a 24-hour shift, regardless of breaks. An alternative decision would have been devastating and quite literally could have led to the collapse of the industry.
The Court of Appeals remanded to the lower courts the issue of whether class action treatment of cases is appropriate where home care aides do not receive the requisite sleep and meal breaks and are nonetheless paid for only 13 hours of a 24-hour shift.