The New York Court of Appeals has issued a long-anticipated ruling and reversed a decision by the Appellate Division, Second Department in Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc., with wide-ranging consequences for the home health care industry.

In Andryeyeva, CTSW’s client, New York Health Care (“NYHC”), was sued in a putative class of home health-care aides alleging that NYHC was required to pay aides working live-in shifts for each hour of a 24-hour shift, despite the New York Department of Labor’s longstanding policy permitting employers to compensate workers 13 hours of a 24-hour shift, provided the aides received allotted sleep and meal times.

The trial and appellate court agreed with plaintiffs and certified a class of home attendants who worked live-in shifts and were not paid for each of the 24-hours. The appellate court held that the DOL’s policy conflicted with the plain language of the applicable minimum wage order and rejected the long-held rule of the DOL, throwing the industry into turmoil.

Indeed, the decision sent shock waves throughout the home health care industry in New York, which paid employees consistent with the 13-hour rule. These decisions were so threatening to the entire industry that the DOL enacted an Emergency Regulation codifying its long standing 13-hour rule.

The Court of Appeals reversed and held that the DOL’s consistent, long-standing enforcement of its minimum wage order was neither unreasonable nor irrational and that its interpretation was entitled to deference. The decision literally prevented the collapse of the home health care industry.

The CTSW team included litigation partners Stephen Wagner and Sari Kolatch, who argued the appeal, and senior associate Jackson Davis.