Feds Appeal Order That Halted Expansion Of Overtime Pay To Millions

Image courtesy of Phil Hart

This morning, around 4 million Americans would have gone to work, eligible to collect overtime pay that they hadn’t previously been entitled to receive. However, last week a federal court judge halted the new rule that would have expanded this overtime coverage. Even with a new administration coming into the White House in about seven weeks, the Justice Department has announced its intention to appeal this ruling.

To backtrack momentarily: Federal law currently only requires overtime pay for those earning up to $23,660/year ($455/week). Last year, the Department of Labor issued a new rule [PDF] that would have raised that threshold to $47,892/year ($921/week) — adding around 4.2 million American workers to the list of people eligible for overtime pay. The rule also included a mechanism that automatically adjusts this salary threshold every three years.

But then — following a challenge by multiple states — U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant granted an injunction [PDF] halting the rule from being enforced. The court found that the plaintiff states had sufficiently established that the Labor Department may have overstepped its authority in setting the new salary levels and devising the automatic update mechanism for the salary threshold.

Though not all states challenged the rule, the injunction applies on a nationwide level.

With a new — and very different — presidential administration set to take over the reins of the Executive branch in January, some had wondered if the injunction signaled the end of the road for the overtime rule.

But this afternoon, lawyers for the DOJ notified the judge of the government’s intent to appeal [PDF] the injunction to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

No appeal brief has been filed and no timeline has been set for the appeal. The Labor Department has referred our request for comment to the DOJ.

Even if the current administration is successful in lifting the injunction, the incoming Trump White House could use the Congressional Review Act — which allows for lawmakers to review and raise opposition to recently enacted rules — to try to roll back the overtime rule, along with any number of the rules finalized by federal agencies in the final months of the Obama administration.

While Congress has attempted to use the Review Act multiple times to roll back regulations, the law has only been used successfully once in its two-decade existence. However, this will be the first time since the Review Act was enacted in 1996 that both the Legislative and Executive branches will be controlled fully by a party that has repeatedly opposed much of the regulation put in place by the outgoing administration.

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