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Court says Minnesota can’t pay family members less for health care work

The Legislature had tried to pay family members 20 percent less than non-related personal care attendants, but the state Appeals Court says that’s unconstitutional.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled unconstitutional a state law that called for lower pay for family members who work as personal care attendants than the amount paid to non-related workers who do the same job.

The 2011 Legislature passed the measure to save money on the state budget, figuring that relatives would accept the pay cut because they felt an obligation to continue caring for their family member. But the measure was immediately challenged in court and was not implemented.

But the case continued and the Appeals Court said in its ruling that the measure:

“…creates arbitrary distinctions between relative and non-relative personal care attendants, it fails the Minnesota rational  basis test and therefore is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Minnesota Constitution.”

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The ruling noted:

“[The Legislature action which called for relatives working as Personal Care Assistant to receive 80 percent pay] is based on an assumed distinction between the response of relative and non-relative PCAs to the prospect of reduced pay that, in turn, is based on an assumed moral obligation possessed only by relative PCAs.  The distinction created … between similarly situated individuals is arbitrary and does not provide a natural, reasonable, or substantial basis to justify legislation providing for unequal pay for equal work.”