Overtime Case on Maximum Overdrive

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 15, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Fifth Circuit will expedite a case to decide whether overtime wages will potentially double for millions of Americans.

In a one-page order, the circuit court said it will fast-track the appeal of a preliminary injunction blocking overtime rules that would have taken effect on Dec. 1, 2016. A district court judge had enjoined the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing its new overtime rules, which could have raised the minimum salary level from $455 per week to $913 per week for white-collar workers.

The appeals court set a briefing schedule that will challenge the participants to work through the holidays. Briefs are due Dec. 16, 2016; Dec. 23, 2016; Jan. 17, 2017; Jan. 23, 2017; and Jan. 31, 2017. A hearing will be set to follow at that time.

Wage Earners Waiting

The schedule is faster than the appellants had requested, suggesting the urgency of the matter for the court and executive, administrative and professional workers across the country. The preliminary injunction is in effect nationwide, impacting about 4.2 million laborers.

In its appeal, the labor department has challenged a ruling on November 22, 2016, by Judge Amos L. Mazzant III for the Eastern District of Texas. The injunction stopped the implementation of regulations that would have more than doubled the minimum salary requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act for major white-collar overtime exemptions.

Timing Is Everything

The order was issued on the same day that Donald Trump announced his nominee for Secretary of Labor, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder. Many businesses have opposed increases in minimum wages, with restaurants and retailers being among the most vocal. Puzder, whose business employs about 70,000 people and grosses about $1.3 billion annually, has said that higher wage requirements may result in workers being replaced by technologies, such as kiosks at fast-food restaurants.

"Overtime pay has to come from somewhere, most likely reduced hours, reduced salaries or reduced bonuses," he told the Los Angeles Times in March.

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