Court rules Gov. Wolf’s home care executive order illegal
The Commonwealth Court has invalidated an executive order issued by Governor Tom Wolf attempting to force unionization on thousands of home care workers. The court ruled that the executive order intruded on the private employment relationships of thousands of Pennsylvanians and that Governor Wolf exceeded his constitutional authority.
In a 4-1 ruling in J. Markham v. Thomas Wolf, the court stated, “[T]he Executive Order is de facto legislation, with provisions contrary to the existing statutory scheme. At its core, the Executive Order invades the relationship between a [Direct Care Worker] and the employer participant who receives personal services in his or her home.”
The case mirrors Smith & Lambrecht v. Wolf, currently pending before the court, in which the Fairness Center represents Dave Smith and Don Lambrecht in their suit against the governor challenging the same executive order.
“The decision is a decisive victory for home care providers and recipients across Pennsylvania,” stated David Osborne, president and general counsel for the Fairness Center. “From the outset, Governor Wolf’s executive order was a blatant attempt to set up a collective bargaining agreement in violation of the law. It would have allowed unions to siphon millions of dollars each year from the paychecks of 20,000 home care workers across the state.”
Homebound with muscular dystrophy, Osborne has relied on Lambrecht as his sole home care provider for 25 years. Wolf’s executive order would have effectively stripped Osborne’s rights as an employer and forced Lambrecht to unionize against Osborne.
In 2015, Gov. Wolf signed an executive order allowing unions to represent representation workers like Lambrecht. In April of 2015, a Commonwealth Court judge issued a preliminary injunction halting the full enforcement of Wolf’s order.