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DOL Wants to Fast-Track Appeal of New Overtime Rule Injunction, Avoid Certain Post-Trump Fate


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Late last month, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking alterations to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) from taking effect. The changes, issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) at the direction of President Obama, would have made millions of American workers eligible for overtime pay. Judge Amos L. Mazzant III decided the DOL and President Obama overstepped their authority, however. The injunction was the result of a legal challenge brought by 21 states and a coalition of, cough cough, business groups:

The new overtime rules would have raised the threshold for exemption for overtime from $455 per week, or $23,660 annually, to $913 per week, or $47,476 annually. As a result, an estimated 4.2 million workers across the country were expected to become eligible for overtime pay.

The injunction brought hope that the DOL’s rules would be put on hold into the new year and into the administration of president-elect Donald Trump, who some see as more likely to eliminate regulation on business.

On December 1, the same day the new overtime regulations were originally scheduled to take effect, DOL Secretary Thomas Perez challenged the injunction by filing a notice of appeal in the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The swift appeal was expected:

A DOL appeal of the preliminary injunction was widely anticipated, although the amount of time it has taken the DOL to file the notice of appeal is somewhat surprising.  Shortly after the injunction was issued, the DOL stated on its website: “The Department strongly disagrees with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans. The Department’s Overtime Final Rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rule-making process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule.”

The DOL needs to move the process along as quickly as possible if they hope to implement the FLSA revisions before the incoming administration is sworn in. Business-friendly legal experts suggest the DOL won’t have time:

The U.S. Department of Labor has urged the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to grant a shorter-than-usual schedule for briefing and to set oral argument “for the first available date after” all briefs have been filed.

But USDOL’s proposed timeline calls for the last brief to be submitted as late as February 7, 2017.  Even if the court adopts the proposed schedule, then, the appeal will not be decided before President-elect Trump takes office.

Trump takes office on January 20, 2017.


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