Employment Law This Week (Episode 51: Week of December 5, 2016) has released bonus footage of its interview with Jeffrey Ruzal, a Senior Counsel at Epstein Becker Green.
As Mr. Ruzal discusses, a federal court in Texas has temporarily enjoined new exemption rules issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The rules, which would have dramatically increased salary thresholds for overtime exemptions, were set to go into effect on December 1. The district court judge found that the 21 states that brought the suit established a prima facie case that the DOL overstepped its authority in establishing the new rules. Because the Fair Labor Standards Act makes no reference to salary thresholds, the court found that any new thresholds might have to be created by Congress and not the DOL. If the injunction is made permanent, it could be the beginning of a lengthy appeals process, which would leave employers in limbo.
As Mr. Ruzal discusses, Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits hit a record high in 2015. The number of federal wage-and-hour suits rose almost 8% this year. There are many reasons for the increase, including more worker-friendly rules and increased publicity around minimum wage and overtime issues. Some point to the difficulties of applying an outdated law to our modern-day economy.