DOL Focuses on Salary Threshold in Overtime Rule Appeal

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DOL Focuses on Salary Threshold in Overtime Rule Appeal

07/06/2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fate of a new federal overtime rule is still up in the air. 

In a June 30 brief, the U.S. Department of Labor said it wants salary level to count in deciding who is eligible for overtime pay. The brief was filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

However, the agency does not want to set the maximum pay a worker can get and still qualify, according to The Associated Press.

The filing is part of President Trump's administration appeal of a November ruling that put new overtime regulations on hold — just days before they were set to go into effect on Dec. 1.

A new overtime rule reached during President Obama's administration raised the salary level for the white collar exemptions from $23,660 to $47,476. 

On Nov. 22, 2016, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant ruled that the Department of Labor exceeded its authority by focusing on salaries to determine whether employees are eligible for overtime pay or not. Mazzant stated that the department should instead examine the duties that employees perform to determine if they qualify as "executive, administrative or professional" workers who are exempt from overtime requirements, as CSNews Online previously reported.

That ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by 21 states in U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas.

New Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who took the post in April, has suggested the decision may have called into question whether his agency could use a salary level at all.

As the AP reported, he told a Senate panel this year that he'd consider raising the maximum salary level from nearly $24,000 to a bit more than $30,000 to keep up with inflation. The idea is that workers making less than the threshold would be eligible for time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. Obama's salary level would have made 4 million more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

In its June 30 brief, the Labor Department did not endorse the Obama administration's salary maximum and is seeking public information on a new threshold.

The administration asked the court to "address only the threshold legal question of the department's statutory authority to set a salary level, without addressing the specific salary level set by the 2016 final rule," according to the news outlet.