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The U.S. Department of Labor on Friday asked an appeals court to reaffirm its authority to establish a salary level for overtime-exempt employees.
But the reply brief filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans also asks that the court not address the validity of any specific salary level set by the 2016 final rule “which the Department intends to revisit through new rule-making.”
Under the controversial overtime rule proposed by the Department of Labor during the Obama administration, the threshold for overtime-exempt employees was increased to $913 a week, or $47,476 annually for a full-time employee, from the current $455 a week, or $23,660 annually.
On Nov. 22, Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court in Sherman, Texas, issued a preliminary injunction halting the overtime rule’s planned implementation in response to litigation filed by states and business organizations.
The Labor Department then appealed the ruling to the 5th Circuit, which had given the Trump administration until Friday to file its brief in the case.
Meanwhile, earlier this week the DOL said it plans to seek public comments on the issue.
Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has said he would be amenable to changing the federal overtime rule, but not to the extent proposed by the Obama administration.
In its brief, the DOL says it has used a three-part test to identify workers who are exempt from overtime pay protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act for more than 75 years.
“In enjoining the 2016 rule, the District Court reasoned that the salary-level component of this three-part test is unlawful,” said the brief in State of Nevada et al. v. United States Department of Labor et al.
“Although plaintiffs defend the District Court’s broad reasoning, they offer no basis to call into question a regulatory test that has been in place since the FLSA’s inception,” it states.
“The Department requests that this court reverse the judgment of the District Court because it was premised on an erroneous legal conclusion and reaffirm the Department’s statutory authority to establish a salary level test,” the brief concludes.
“The Department requests that this Court not address the validity of the specific salary level set by the 2016 final rule ($913 per week), which the Department intends to revisit through new ruling,” the brief states.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to delay until May 1 receiving briefs from the U.S. Department of Labor in litigation over the overtime rule while it considers the issues involved.