Statement | Unions and Labor Standards

News from EPI Overtime ruling rests on flawed logic and undermines the rights of working people to get paid for their time on the job

On November 30th, 2016, Federal District Judge Amos Mazzant issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Department of Labor from implementing or enforcing their update to the overtime rule, which raises the threshold under which salaried workers are guaranteed time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours a week.

This afternoon, Judge Mazzant issued a ruling declaring the the updated rule invalid, arguing—incorrectly—that the department does not have the authority to set a salary threshold so high that it “will effectively eliminate the duties test.” This ruling is deeply flawed and undermines the rights of working people to get paid for their time on the job.

For years, as the salary threshold was eroded by inflation and congressional inaction, businesses have used the imprecision of the duties test to avoid paying overtime to low-level employees who they wrongly classify as managers or executives. By raising the salary threshold, DOL simply ensured that workers who should be entitled to overtime pay were given it.

As EPI Vice President pointed out in November, Judge Mazzant’s ruling is flawed for a variety of reasons, writing that “the salary test is not just a tool for weeding out employees who, for example, don’t do the work of engineers or architects or radio announcers; it is an independent measure of whether the employee has sufficient status and prestige to protect him or herself from abusively long hours without adequate compensation.”

Since the law was passed, Congress has allowed the Secretary of Labor to set both a salary and a duties test. The two work hand-in-hand to ensure that working people are paid for the hours they work. We hope that DOL will appeal this ruling and that Secretary Acosta and President Trump will stand up for the 12.5 million people whose rights to overtime hang in the balance.


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