Perhaps the most challenging compliance issue of 2016 was preparing for the U.S. Department of Labor’s increase in the minimum salary level required for the “white collar” overtime exemptions, from $23,660 to $47,476 annually. Many employers were ready to comply as required on December 1 — other employers, maybe not so much. However, on November 22, less than two weeks before the new regulations went into effect, a federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rule.
DOL quickly appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and requested expedited review. The Fifth Circuit granted that motion on December 8, with the DOL’s final brief due on January 31, 2017. But, on January 25, just days after the inauguration of President Trump, DOL asked and was granted an extension of time to file its final brief, in order “to allow incoming leadership personnel adequate time to consider the issues.”
Is overtime dead? That is the question. The Trump Administration may decide to stop defending the case, letting the preliminary injunction stand. But the AFL-CIO has moved to intervene in the case, seeking to defend the regulations if DOL will not. DOL could also file a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to modify, but not completely withdraw, the rule; perhaps adopting a more modest salary increase (say, $35,000).
The only clear answer we can provide is that nothing will happen until the new Secretary of Labor is confirmed.