The Third Circuit has upended a Pennsylvania federal court ruling that a business wasn't a joint employer to Medicaid-funded home care workers and thus didn't have to face class claims it failed to pay them overtime, saying jurors could find otherwise based on the company's role in the program.
In a nonprecedential opinion, a circuit panel on Monday overturned U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl's Jan. 28 decision granting summary judgment to Public Partnerships LLC in a proposed class action from Ralph Talarico, noting that PPL establishes rules for the direct care workers, sets their working conditions and maintains their records.
"Whether PPL is Talarico's employer is a genuine dispute as to a material fact because the evidence — viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Talarico — does not so favor PPL that no reasonable juror could render a verdict against it," according to the panel opinion authored by U.S. Circuit Judge Michael A. Chagares.
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Talarico launched the suit in 2017, claiming PPL violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Pennsylvania wage laws by only paying overtime when direct care workers spent more than 40 hours a week with one client — if the extra hours were divided among multiple clients, they would only be paid at the regular rate, court documents state.
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Talarico attorney Christine E. Webber of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC told Law360 on Tuesday, "Plaintiffs are pleased that the Third Circuit recognized that there are disputes of fact, so that plaintiffs' claim that PPL is their joint employer must go to trial. We look forward to the case returning to the district court, where we hope to establish PPL's joint employer status, and ultimately recover overtime compensation for these hard working caregivers."
Talarico is represented by Christine E. Webber and Paul I. Osadebe of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Richard Katz of Arnold, Beyer & Katz Law Firm and Rachhana T. Srey of Nichols Kaster PLLP.
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