Statement on the NYS Court of Appeals Decision
April 3, 2019
We are deeply disappointed with the recent failure of the New York State Courtof Appeals to right a wrong for thousands of workers and those who receive care. On Tuesday, March 26, the NYS Court of Appeals voted 5 to 2 in favor of overturning the decisions of the lower courts, and therefore making legal the inhuman practice of assigning home care workers 24 hour shifts- for only 13 hours of pay.
With this decision, the NYS Court of Appeals undermined its own authority, and our system of checks and balances by deferring to the Department of Labor (DOL). As Judge Garcia wrote as part of the dissenting opinion, the DOL’s interpretation of its law “not only enables this mistreatment of home health care aides, it directly affects their livelihood: with eleven hours of pay deducted from their earnings, home health care aides are paid an hourly rate less than the statewide minimum wage.” Home attendant Lai Yee Chan, a leader in this fight said, “I am very mad with the decision. So are other home care workers who do 24 hours. The Court should not listen to the DOL that continues to lie and say we are able to sleep at night with patients who need 24 hour care.”
This failure on the part of the NYS Court of Appeals gives further urgency for the legislature to make inhumane 24-hour workday illegal and replace them with maximum 12-hour split shifts. This would:
Improve health and safety – people should receive proper care and workers should be able to go home after a 12-hour shift and have proper rest. Countless studies show that long working hours are connected with higher workplace injuries and mistakes.
Create more jobs with better conditions for New Yorkers and stop treating women and immigrant workers as second-class citizens.
Ensure that workers no longer receive 13-hour pay for a 24-hour workday.
We need to mobilize and build power from the ground up. We need to inform the public about the treatment home care workers and those they care for have been receiving. We need to urge home attendants and those they care for to assert their rights by filing complaints or lawsuits at various agencies and in the courts. We need your help to win. Let’s come together to end the 24-hour workday and lead the way for more workers to fight against long hours and overwork. Visit aintiawoman.org to endorse the campaign, donate, and learn more. For more information, please call 212-358-0295.
Mary Lister, AIW Representative