On March 26, 2019, New York’s highest court delivered a victory for employers in the home care industry, clarifying that employers need only compensate home health aides for 13 hours of a 24-hour shift, provided the employees receive five hours of uninterrupted sleep during an eight-hour sleep break and three hours for meal breaks.  Andryeyeva v. New York Health Care, Inc. (N.Y. Case Nos. 11 and 12 Mar. 26, 2019).

In this closely watched case, the Court of Appeals upheld the New York State Department of Labor’s Wage Order for Miscellaneous Industries as a reasonable interpretation of the law, reversing two decisions of the Appellate Division, Second Department, which refused to defer to the Wage Order.  In a 5-2 opinion, the Court of Appeals reviewed the relevant legislative history, as well as a March 2010 opinion letter from the NYSDOL concluding that “live-in employees must be paid not less than for thirteen hours per twenty-four hour period provided that they are afforded at least eight hours for sleep and actually receive five hours of uninterrupted sleep, and that they are afforded three hours for meals.”  New York home care employers have relied on this opinion letter and other NYSDOL guidance in determining their pay practices for live-in employees.

Although the plaintiffs and two dissenting judges argued that sleep and meal periods were compensable because the employees were “available for work at a place prescribed by the employer” throughout the day and night, the majority disagreed, finding no conflict between the requirements of the job and the NYSDOL’s interpretation of the law.  The Court held that the Appellate Division failed to afford adequate deference to the agency’s interpretation of the law, and remanded for further proceedings.

On remand, the plaintiffs may still seek class certification for claims involving “failure to adequately compensate home health care aides when they did not receive the minimum time for sleep and meal breaks during their 24-hour shifts, maintain adequate records of, or compensate for, the hours actually worked, and provide appropriate sleep facilities.”  Employers in the home care industry should pay close attention to further developments in this case, and in the meantime, ensure that they are keeping accurate records of sleep and meal periods for live-in employees.

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Photo of Allan Bloom Allan Bloom

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended…

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended many of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages, employment discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge, both at the trial and appellate court levels as well as in arbitration, before government agencies, and in private negotiations. He has secured complete defense verdicts for clients in front of juries, as well as injunctions to protect clients’ confidential information and assets.

As the leader of Proskauer’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, Allan has been a strategic partner to a number of Fortune 500 companies to help them avoid, minimize and manage exposure to wage and hour-related risk. Allan’s views on wage and hour issues have been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg and Fortune, among other leading publications. His class-action defense work for clients has saved billions of dollars in potential damages.

Allan is regularly called on to advise operating companies, management companies, fund sponsors, boards of directors and senior leadership on highly sensitive matters including executive and key person transitions, internal investigations and strategic workforce planning. He has particular expertise in the financial services industry, where he has litigated, arbitrated, and mediated disputes for more than 20 years.

A prolific author and speaker, Allan was the Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Journal from 2012 to 2017. He has served as an author, editor and contributor to a number of leading treatises in the field of employment law, including ADR in Employment Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Employment Discrimination Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes (Cornell University/CPR), The Employment Law Review (Law Business Research, U.S. Chapter Author), and The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual (SCCE).

Allan has served as longtime pro bono counsel to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Public Theater, among other nonprofit organizations.  He is a past Vice Chair of Repair the World, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes volunteers and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, and a past recipient of the Lawyers Alliance Cornerstone Award for extraordinary contributions through pro bono legal services.

Allan is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and has been recognized as a leading practitioner by Chambers since 2011.

Photo of Andrew Sherwood Andrew Sherwood

Andrew M. Sherwood is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. His practice focuses on defending employers in state and federal court lawsuits and alternative dispute resolution forums against claims of…

Andrew M. Sherwood is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. His practice focuses on defending employers in state and federal court lawsuits and alternative dispute resolution forums against claims of discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation and breach of contract.

From 2010 through 2012, Andrew served as an honors trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he litigated anti-discrimination claims against private employers and managed administrative investigations.