Home care workers recently filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the State of New York and its labor department, claiming they were being unfairly treated regarding 24-hour shifts.
The complaint, filed with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Justice, claimed that the agencies’ policies and practices have led to the unlawful treatment of home care workers. It also stated that these individuals risk suffering from various occupational injuries.
In New York, home care workers are allowed to be paid for only 13 hours of work per shift, based on the assumption that they can eat and sleep at their patients’ homes. However, these aides have long said this practice was impossible due to their patients’ round-the-clock needs, and therefore need to be compensated adequately for their work. In 2018, the State’s health and labor departments updated the policy.
According to the complaint, the State’s policies violate the civil rights of immigrants and people of color, as they are not allowed to receive the same level of protection under the federal program known as Medicaid. Most of the home care services provided in New York are funded by the State’s Medicaid program, a health insurance program for low-income individuals.
In New York, over 80% of the home care workers are people of color, and over 60% are immigrants. These individuals have been fighting for the right to 24-hour shifts for years.
Over the years, home care workers have tried various methods to end the 13-hour work policy. They have also been filing multiple class-action lawsuits against their employers. In 2019, two of these cases were brought to the Supreme Court of New York. Despite the Court’s ruling that the policy was legal, it still required proper implementation of the policy so that workers were appropriately compensated for their work.
It also stated that the allegations made by the home care workers were disturbing. The Court’s majority opinion also noted that the situation was a grim example of yearslong exploitation.
A new discrimination complaint was filed against the State after regulators failed to enforce the 13-hour work policy following the Court’s ruling. It claims that some home care agencies told employees they should not respond to calls at night to avoid liability. The complaint also states that some workers have been retaliated against for reporting their hours under the new ruling.
The complaint explains that the State’s Department of Labor needs to be more responsive to complaints made by home care workers. The State’s Department of Labor and Health did not comment on the allegations. The agencies involved in the case were also unable to respond to requests for comment.
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If you have been the target of discrimination in the workplace, working with a qualified and knowledgeable attorney is often the best way to address these issues effectively. At Risman & Risman, we provide competent legal assistance for those discriminated in the workplace. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free initial consultation with our team.