Judge blocks Obama over­time pay rule for mil­lions

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Michelle Rin­dels

LAS VE­GAS — A fed­eral court Tues­day blocked im­ple­men­ta­tion of a rule im­posed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion that would have made an es­ti­mated 4 mil­lion more higher- earn­ing work­ers across the coun­try el­i­gi­ble for over­time pay start­ing Dec. 1.

The U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas granted the na­tion- wide pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion that pre­vents the Department of La­bor from im­ple­ment­ing the changes while the reg­u­la­tion’s le­gal­ity is ex­am­ined in more de­tail by the court. The order comes af­ter 21 states sued the agency to block the rule be­fore it took ef­fect.

“Busi­nesses and state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments across the coun­try can breathe a sigh of re­lief now that this rule has been halted,” said Nevada At­tor­ney Gen­eral Adam Lax­alt, who led the Nevada’s Adam Lax­alt is fight­ing against the rule. coali­tion of states fight­ing the rule and has been a fre­quent critic of what he char­ac­ter­ized as Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion over­reach.

The reg­u­la­tion sought to shrink the so-called white col­lar ex­emp­tion and more than dou­ble the salary thresh­old un­der which em­ploy­ers must pay over­time to their work­ers. Over­time pro­tec­tions un­der the reg­u­la­tion would ap­ply to work­ers mak­ing up to $913 a week, or $47,476 a year, and the thresh­old would read­just ev­ery three years to re­flect changes in av­er­age wages.

Lax­alt said the rule would bur­den pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors, strain­ing bud­gets and forc­ing lay­offs or cuts in work­ing hours.

The court agreed with plain­tiffs that the Department of La­bor ex­ceeds its del­e­gated author­ity with the rule, and that it could cause ir­repara­ble harm if it was not quickly stopped.

The Department of La­bor had no im­me­di­ate com­ment on the order Tues­day.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of La­bor Thomas Perez said af­ter the orig­i­nal law­suit was filed in Septem­ber that he was con- fi­dent in the le­gal­ity of the rule, call­ing the law­suit a par­ti­san and ob­struc­tion­ist tac­tic.

He noted that over­time pro­tec­tions have re­ceded over the years. They ap­plied to 62 per­cent of full-time salaried work­ers in 1975 and 7 per­cent today.

“The over­time rule is de­signed to re­store the in­tent of the Fair La­bor Stan­dards Act, the crown jewel of worker pro­tec­tions in the United States,” Perez said in Septem­ber.

CAROLYN KASTER/AP 2015

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