We all remember the freak out in 2016 when the Department of Labor (DOL) announced changes to the overtime rules, including increasing the minimum salary requirement from $23,660 to $47,476 for white collar workers. We were right there with you, talking about it nonstop at our presentations and seminars. We also all remember when everything came to a screeching halt when a federal court judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking the changes. In fact, it was our biggest news story in 2016.
It is easy to forget about the changes, since they seemingly feel like forever ago. However, you may be surprised to learn that the federal judge who blocked the changes did not actually enter a final ruling invalidating the changes until recently – August 31, 2017. The delay was the result of the change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration, including changes to people at the top of various departments, including the DOL.
Alexander Acosta, the new U.S. Secretary of Labor, hinted that changes to the overtime rule may be in the offing around the time of his appointment. More recently, in July 2017, the DOL issued a Request for Information seeking comments on what, if any, increase should be made to the minimum salary requirement for purposes of exemption. Finally, on October 30, 2017, we received confirmation that changes are in the works.
On October 30th, the DOL appealed the Texas judge’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. At the same time, the DOL asked the Fifth Circuit to “hold the appeal in abeyance while the Department of Labor undertakes further rulemaking to determine what the salary level should be.” Translation: hold on a sec while we change the salary level again. The presumption is that the new salary threshold will be somewhere in the lower 30’s, maybe around $32,000. Regardless, whenever it makes its decision, the DOL will issue a new rule and then argue that the case now pending before the Fifth Circuit is moot (meaning it’s pointless and should be dismissed because the rule at the heart of the challenge has been abandoned for whatever the new rule is).
We’ll keep an ear and eye out for any news on the rule change. Remember that even when it is issued, there will be time to implement it before you will be held to it. Take a deep breath. We’ll get through this.