Republican officials nationwide want to stop enforcement of new overtime rules that make millions of people who work eligible for overtime pay.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul last week filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) implementation of the overtime rules.
Nineteen other states with GOP-held legislatures joined the lawsuit: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.
The Texas Association of Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and dozens of other organizations filed a similar lawsuit.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not required to pay so-called white collar employees if they work more than 40 hours in a week. To qualify for overtime, these workers must perform specific duties and earn a certain salary to be exempt from overtime as white collar employees.
DOL’s final overtime rules, announced in May, made three key changes.
The new rules increased the salary level threshold for white collar employees from $455 per week to $913 per week, or from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year.
The new rules increased salary threshold for highly compensated employees from $100,000 per year to $134,004 per year.
The new rules also create a mechanism for automatically increasing the salary threshold every three years “to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.”
The DOL estimates that the new rules will directly impact 4.2 million people who work in the United States.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a statement that the new rules will help millions of working Americans “punch their ticket” to the middle class. “If you work full-time in America, you should be able to get by; when you work extra, you should be able to get ahead,” Perez wrote. “That’s the commonsense principle we’re reaffirming today.”
Paxton said in a statement that the Obama administration is attempting to “unilaterally” rewrite federal law.
“The numerous crippling federal regulations that the Obama administration has imposed on businesses in this country have been bad enough,” Paxton said. “But to pass a rule like this, all in service of a radical leftist political agenda, is inexcusable.”
The lawsuits filed by Republican officials and business interests seek to block the new rules, which are set to take effect on December 1.
Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, told the Dallas Morning News that presidents such as Gerald Ford and George W. Bush have also raised the salary standard.
“It’s remarkable that somehow they think it’s an overreach,” Mishel said. “But it’s not an overreach when an employer asks a $25,000-a-year employee to work 20 hours of overtime for free?”
Perez responded to the “partisan lawsuits” in a statement and said that he is “confident in the legality” of Labor’s new overtime rules.
“Despite the sound legal and policy footing on which the rule is constructed, the same interests that have stood in the way of middle-class Americans getting paid when they work extra are continuing their obstructionist tactics,” Perez said.