CaseSmith v. Wolf

Case Status

On August 21, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order and opinion vacating the Commonwealth Court's Order and remanding the case back down to the Commonwealth Court.

Case Details

David Smith and Donald Lambrecht v. Governor Thomas W. Wolf, in his official capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services

The Fairness Center represents Dave Smith and his homecare worker Don Lambrecht in their challenge to Governor Wolf’s executive order “unionizing” Don and other homecare workers against Dave and other homecare recipients.

In late February 2015, Governor Wolf issued an executive order that would allow unions to easily force representation on certain homecare (or “direct care”) workers who are paid through Medicaid or other state programs. Under the executive order, unions will be permitted to exact dues payments—up to $8 million annually—from these homecare workers, many of whom cannot afford to pay union dues, do not want union representation, and will receive little benefit from forced representation. Governor Wolf’s executive order is nearly identical to a 2010 executive order that then-Governor Rendell issued and that was ultimately rescinded after a court challenge.

Meanwhile, disabled and elderly homecare recipients stand to lose even more. Homecare recipients are the legal employers of their homecare workers targeted by the executive order; they have the authority to hire, train, manage, pay, and fire their homecare workers. In other words, the unionization of homecare workers organizes workers against the homecare recipients that they serve. Unions will take away homecare recipients’ authority as employers.

Dave and Don are first asking the court to stop Governor Wolf and the Department of Human Services from implementing the Executive Order. Second, they are asking the court to declare that the Executive Order is an unconstitutional exercise of the Governor’s power.

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Case Documents
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Backgrounder
September 9, 2015
David Smith Photo 1
September 4, 2015
David Smith Photo 2
September 4, 2015
Appellants' Br. (S. Ct.)
January 17, 2017
Formal Comment in Response
August 13, 2018

Case Status

On August 21, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order and opinion vacating the Commonwealth Court's Order and remanding the case back down to the Commonwealth Court.