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Labor Department delays change to overtime pay rules

After much discussion and debate in Texas and across the country, the Department of Labor announced that it would pursue a new rulemaking proposal related to overtime pay in March 2019. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) notes that exempt workers, who are also defined by their managerial, professional or independent responsibilities, do not need to be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 each week. However, the standards for what constitutes an exempt worker are often exploited by employers who classify low-earning wage workers as exempt from overtime pay.

The salary threshold required for a worker to be considered exempt remains $23,660 annually. The Obama administration attempted to change the regulation to raise that standard to $47,476 before a worker could be classified as exempt. However, employers challenged the law and a court order blocked its implementation. The Department of Labor's efforts to move the proposal stalled when the Trump administration came into office. Reform has been delayed once again, but many expect that the agency will propose a minimum salary threshold somewhere between $32,000 and $35,000 for overtime exemption.

The Labor Department will also be pursuing regulatory changes on other issues of concern. It reported that it plans to issue a proposed rule on matters related to joint employment. This rule, which should be open for public comment in December, will address the conflicts between the National Labor Relations Act and the FLSA as well as the confusion in the application of both laws when franchises and staffing agencies are involved along with larger corporations in a worker's employment.

Far too many workers are subject to wage and hour violations on the job. These violations could range from straightforward wage theft to inappropriate classifications as exempt. An employment lawyer can work with employees being cheated of their wages to pursue legal action.

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