Labor Department to appeal ruling against overtime expansion

Labor Department to appeal ruling against overtime expansion

The Department of Labor is appealing a Texas judge’s decision to toss out an Obama-era rule that would have extended overtime pay to some 4 millions Americans.

The department said it filed a notice Monday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, but will ask the court to hold the appeal in abeyance to give officials time to rewrite the rule.

The department is defending its authority to create the overtime rule, but not the salary limit set by the Obama administration.

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Critics of the rule said it raised the overtime threshold too much and too quickly. It would have forced employers to pay overtime to most salaried workers earning less than $47,476 annually; the salary cutoff for overtime pay now stands at $23,660. 

In his August ruling, federal District Judge Amos Mazzant said the Labor Department had improperly looked at salaries instead of job descriptions when determining whether a worker should be eligible for overtime pay.

The department put out a request in May for public comments on how the rule should be changed and is now reviewing more than 140,000 submissions.

An official said the department is hoping the court will rule the case is moot once the agency rewrites the rule and sets appropriate salary levels to qualify for overtime pay. 

The National Employment Law Project called the announced appeal “good news” for millions of workers.

“The Labor Department is right to defend its authority to issue a robust salary threshold to set the baseline for this exemption,” the worker rights group said in a statement late last week. 

“NELP urges the Labor Department to zealously pursue this appeal to defend and ultimately implement the Obama administration’s regulation, which would expand overtime rights for 4.2 million workers and restore real teeth to the legislative protection of the 40-hour workweek.”