United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
M. HILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff s Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment and Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment on all counts.
Sanchez ("Plaintiff") previously worked for both
Caregivers Staffing Services, Inc. and Caregivers Home Health
Services, Inc. ("Defendants"). Both companies
provide services in the home health care industry. Staffing
Services is owned exclusively by Silvia Echeverria, and it
provides non-skilled services. Home Health is owned both by
Ms. Echeverria and Ms. Teresita Cauterucci; it provides
skilled services. The companies have separate scheduling,
separate time-keeping procedures, and separate payroll. While
Ms. Echeverria is an administrator for both companies, she
has never personally employed Plaintiff.
is trained as a home health aide and personal care aide, but
she has not been trained or licensed to work as a registered
nurse (RN), practical nurse (LPN), or certified nurse
assistant (CNA). While working for Defendants, she provided
in-home personal care on an hourly basis at $16 per hour to
clients of Staffing Services. Plaintiff provided personal
care bathing visits on a flat fee basis at $25 per visit to
clients of Home Health. Plaintiff did not provide any client
of either employer with ostomy care, medically-related
repositioning services, or complex or sterile wound care
requiring professional training. Plaintiff did not provide
clients with housework except for one client on weekends. The
housework took minimal time to complete.
November 2014, Defendants announced that nurses and physical
therapists would start receiving overtime compensation.
During the meeting, Plaintiff asked Ms. Echeverria for
overtime compensation. Shortly after the meeting, another
employee, Joe Cauterucci, told Plaintiff that she was fired.
Plaintiff called Ms. Echeverria about this, and Ms.
Echeverria assured Plaintiff that she was not fired. After
Human Resources investigated the matter, Mr. Cauterucci
apologized to Plaintiff for mistakenly telling her that she
was fired. Plaintiff signed a letter that released Defendants
from any claims arising from this incident.
reported her time using different time-cards depending on
whether she performed work for Home Health or Staffing
Services. When Plaintiff combined her hours worked for Home
Health and Staffing Services, she worked more than forty
hours per week between January 1, 2015, and July 31, 2015.
She did not receive overtime compensation at one and a half
times her normal pay rate for these hours. Plaintiff has not
worked more than forty hours per week for either Home Health
and/or Staffing Services since July 31, 2015.
did not have any reduction of patients in April, May, or June
of 2015. In July 2015, Plaintiff's work hours with
Staffing Services decreased when one of her primary patients
died. In October 2015, Plaintiff stopped working for Staffing
Services altogether when she requested a reassignment from
one of her patients. In both November 2015 and January 2016,
Home Health offered Plaintiff full-time employment. She
November 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present action in
federal court. With the Court's permission, Plaintiff
filed an Amended Complaint on March 31, 2016, which listed
three counts: (1) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA") overtime requirements; (2) quantum meruit;
and (3) FLSA retaliation. On October 28, 2016, Plaintiff
moved for Partial Summary Judgment on Count One, and
Defendants moved for Summary Judgment on all counts. In her
Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment,
Plaintiff conceded that she is not entitled to recovery on
Count Two for quantum meruit.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, a court should grant
summary judgment if the pleadings and evidence show that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In reviewing a motion for summary
judgment, the court views the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Once a
motion for summary judgment is properly made, the opposing
party has the burden to show that a genuine dispute of
material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).
Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on Count One. The
FLSA requires employers to pay overtime compensation at time
and a half to any non-exempt employee for any hours worked in
excess of forty hours per week. 29 U.S.C. § 207. There
are exemptions to the FLSA requirement, such as the
"companionship services" exemption. The
companionship exemption was changed in 2015. Previously, this
exemption excused employers from paying overtime compensation
to employees who provided fellowship and protection to
elderly, injured, ill, or disabled persons. This exemption
did not apply to an employee who provided skilled care
requiring medical training or performed a substantial amount
Department of Labor ("DOL") amended the
"companionship services" exemption to broaden the
FLSA's overtime compensation. Under the amended rule,
third-party home health care providers of direct care workers
cannot claim the companionship exemption. The new DOL rule
was set to take effect on January 1, 2015. In December 2014,
the Home Care Association of America challenged the new rule
in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The
District Court stayed the new rule and then held that the
rule exceeded the DOI/s rule-making authority. The DOL
appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, who reversed
and held that the new rule was valid. On October 13, 2015,
the D.C. Circuit issued its mandate and reinstated the new
rule. The DOL issued a notice that it would not enforce
violations of the new rule prior to November 12, 2015.
overtime issue, Plaintiff asserts that the new DOL rule
entitles her to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of
forty hours per week between January 1, 2015, and July 31,
2015. The parties agree that Plaintiff is entitled to
overtime pay if the new rule was effective on January 1,
2015. If the new rule was not yet effective until the D.C.
Circuit issued its mandate, then Plaintiff is not entitled to
overtime compensation because she provided companionship
DOL rule was not yet effective during the time for which
Plaintiff claims she is entitled to overtime compensation.
The sequence of events created a legal nullity, which
prevented the DOL rule from becoming effective until the D.C.
Circuit's . opinion was made effective with its October
13, 2015, mandate. In this sequence, the rule was set to
become effective January 1, 2015, but the DOL rule did not
become effective on January 1 because the D.C. District Court
stayed the effective date until January 14, 2015. On January
14, 2015, the D.C. District Court vacated the DOL rule,
reasoning that the rule exceeded the DOL's rule-making
authority. Accordingly, the DOL rule did not become effective
until the D.C. Circuit reversed and issued a mandate, making
the reversal effective.
argues that the D.C. Circuit's opinion should be given
full retroactive effect, making the new DOL rule valid as of
January 1, 2015, and entitling her to overtime compensation.
This argument is unpersuasive because the DOL rule was a
legal nullity during the time-frame for which Plaintiff seeks
overtime pay. Furthermore, if the rule was given full
retroactive effect, it would unfairly force employers to pay
overtime compensation for hours worked when overtime pay for
companionship services was not required from employers nor
expected by employees. Thus, the former ...