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Court Sets Timeline for Overtime Rule Appeal

SHERMAN, Texas — Three weeks after a federal judge put the brakes on new federal overtime rule, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has filed an appeal.

In November, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, agreed with 21 states and a coalition of business groups — including the U.S Chamber of Commerce — that the new rule is unlawful and granted their motion for a nationwide injunction, as CSNews Online previously reported.

However, in an appellate brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Dec. 15, the DOL said the judge got it wrong and overlooked controlling precedent when he determined employers should evaluate job duties alone to decide if an employee is exempt from the nation's overtime laws, according to Texas Lawyer.

In its appeal brief, the DOL argued that the updated salary baseline in the new rule is commensurate with previous ones set in the past 75 years. The labor department had estimated the rule change would, if implemented, expand overtime coverage to more than 4.2 million additional workers.

In addition, the DOL argued that the harm caused to employees by Mazzant's preliminary injunction "strongly outweighs" the costs that the plaintiffs who had sought the order argued they would incur if the new overtime rule went into effect, the news outlet reported.

To read the appellate brief, click here.

The move follows on the heels of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decision to fast track the appeal of a nationwide preliminary injunction that blocks the DOL from implementing its revisions to overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to The National Law Review, the appellate court granted the DOL's motion seeking an expedited appeal. Notably, the ruling establishes a briefing schedule that is shorter than the one that the DOL had requested. 

Under the schedule proposed by the DOL, all briefing would have been completed by Feb. 7, but the schedule set by the Fifth Circuit requires briefing to be completed by Jan. 31, a week earlier than the requested. 

The Obama Administration unveiled the new overtime rule in May. The most notable change announced will be a nearly doubling of the current salary threshold from its current $23,360 to $47,476, under which virtually all workers will be eligible for time-and-a-half pay. This change would make nearly 5 million currently exempt employees eligible nationwide.

The court's timeline puts DOL's final brief and oral argument on the case after the official change in the White House. President-elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office on Jan. 20.

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