Democrats Pledge a Fight to Restore Overtime Rule

President-elect Trump urged to support appeal of an injunction against the rule

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Dec 2, 2016
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Dec. 1 was the day that the Department of Labor's (DOL's) new overtime rule was to take effect, doubling from $23,660 to $47,476 the salary threshold under which employees must receive time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours in a given week. But the rule was halted on Nov. 22 when a district court judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction, citing the likelihood that the DOL overreached by shifting too far from the Fair Labor Standards Act's duties test and putting too much emphasis on the salary threshold for determining exempt status.

FLSA overtime rule resources
FLSA Overtime Rule Compliance

For more overtime compliance news, tips and tools, check out the SHRM resources provided below:

· FLSA Overtime Rule Resources Guide
· Overtime Rule Blocked: Now What?
· Compliance Checklist · Infographic

Congressional Democrats who support the rule marked Dec. 1 with a call to fight on behalf of the regulation. At a Capitol Hill press conference, they urged President-elect Donald Trump to take up their cause.

Later that day, the Obama administration filed an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn the preliminary injunction that halted the revised overtime rule. However, the appellate process can be time-consuming and many believe that the incoming Trump administration is unlikely to pursue the appeal.

Protect 'Fair Pay'

The raised salary threshold would be "the middle-class equivalent of raising the minimum wage," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who will be Senate minority leader in the next Congress. He said the current threshold was so far out of date and eroded by inflation that "it hardly makes sense anymore."

"Our president-elect talked about [workers'] economic anxieties," Schumer noted. "There is nothing that helps workers more, that can be done immediately, than this rule. So President Trump, this is a test for you. Will you follow up on your rhetoric on the campaign trail with real action to help workers, or will you turn the keys of your administration over to hard-right ideologues who don't want the government to do anything to protect fair pay for workers?"

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Determining Overtime Eligibility in the United States]

No Celebration

"Today was supposed to be a day of celebration," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. It would have been a day "when 4.2 million people … who work 45, 50, 60 hours a week and still make less than $50,000 a year were finally going to be eligible for overtime for all those extra hours they work." But instead, she said, "the corporate lawyers and the lobbyists for the corporate sponsors swooped in and persuaded the court to stop it. And now, all those people will keep right on working those hours without an extra nickel of pay."

Warren called on Trump to have his Department of Labor "appeal this court decision." Or "ask his friends in Congress … to simply pass a law to make every one of those people eligible for overtime."

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., asked whether the president-elect would "stand with millions of working families, those who voted for him and those who didn't, and make sure they get the pay they earned. Or will he side with special interests and millionaires like himself who put profits first every single time."

Other speakers also called out "corporate lobbyists" and "special interests" for their efforts against the rule. The decision by Judge Amos Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, an Obama appointee, involved two joined lawsuits—the first brought by 21 states and the second by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, local chambers of commerce and other business groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 325,000 small business owners.

'Tooth and Nail' Fight

If Trump refuses to support restoring the overtime rule changes, Murray said, "he should know that Democrats here in Congress, now more than ever, are going to fight tooth and nail for the people and communities we represent, to stand up for our values and priorities, and show the American people the path to a government and country that works for all our families, not just the wealthiest few."

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said, "We have the power to change peoples' lives," and that the blocked overtime rule would mean "less food on the table, less money for college." Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., called the ruling "a Grinch decision, leaving not a crumb for the middle class." He urged, "Let's un-Grinch this rule for the holidays."

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., challenged Trump to "speak up and say, 'This is wrong,' " noting, "he can tweet about it…. There are enough characters to send that message."


Related SHRM Online Articles:

Trump Faces Choice on Overtime Rule Appeal, SHRM Online Employment Law, December 2016

Employers Rethink Pay Practices After Overtime Rule, SHRM Online Compensation, May 2016

Revised Overtime Rule a Hard Hit for Small Businesses, Higher EducationSHRM Online Employment Law, March 2016

Proposed Overtime Rule Threatens Nonprofits’ Survival, SHRM Online Employment Law, February 2016

Overtime Rule Change Bad for Business?, SHRM Online Compensation, July 2015


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