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Texas versus the feds, Overtime Pay Edition

Hey, look, it’s another lawsuit filed by Texas against something the Obama administration did that our AG doesn’t like.

Texas is helping lead a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s administration over a new rule that makes millions of more workers eligible for overtime pay.

Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday he is joining his counterpart in Nevada, Adam Laxalt, to file the lawsuit on behalf of 21 states. Paxton said the rule, announced earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Labor, is another example of Obama “trying unilaterally rewrite the law.”

The rule, set to go into effect Dec. 1, doubles the salary threshold under which workers qualify for overtime pay, from $455 per week to $913 per week. The Labor Department estimates the rule will benefit an additional 4.2 million workers.

Critics of the rule say it will place a new burden on businesses, potentially forcing them to demote or lay off workers whom they cannot afford to pay more. On Tuesday, Paxton warned the rule “may lead to disastrous consequences for our economy.”

[…]

The lawsuit specifically claims that the rule is too broad because it is based on the salary threshold. Such a requirement, the states argue, overlooks the fact that some workers in the salary range perform management duties that would make them ineligible for overtime.

The states are asking a federal judge in Sherman to issue an injunction to prevent the rule from taking effect. Texas and Nevada are being joined in the lawsuit by Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.

A copy of the lawsuit is here. The DMN has a response to the arguments put forth in the suit.

Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, said sarcastically that the salary standard had also been raised in the past by “other communists like George W. Bush and Gerald Ford.”

“It’s remarkable that somehow they think it’s an overreach,” he said. “But it’s not an overreach when an employer asks a $25,000-a-year employee to work 20 hours of overtime for free?”

I trust that’s a rhetorical question, but feel free to answer it anyway, because those are always the most fun. I suspect that as with other recent litigation, the fact that this lawsuit was filed in Sherman is not a coincidence, but the result of seeking out the most sympathetic bench they could find. That has been a fairly successful strategy so far, so keep an eye on that. A statement from the Texas AFL-CIO is beneath the fold, and the Chron has more.

A lawsuit filed by Texas and other states attacking pending changes in overtime rules that would benefit 4 million Americans – including some 400,000 Texans – is based on ideology and “zero concern for working people who are forced to put in free hours at the whim of their employers,” Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick said.

“Our nation’s overtime law was designed to promote a society in which people work to live rather than live to work,” Patrick said. “The decision by Texas to file a lawsuit against the overtime rule is a backward-gazing insult that tells hundreds of thousands of Texans that neither their extra work nor their family time is valued.”

The Labor Department’s rule, set to take effect Dec. 1, rectifies a situation in which salaried workers earning as little as $23,660 a year may be required to work 60 hours, 80 hours or even 100 hours in a week while being paid only their base salary.

The Fair Labor Standards Act guarantees time-and-a-half pay for hourly wage-earners for hours they work beyond 40 in a week. But a broad category of managers and professionals who earn salaries are not eligible for overtime pay unless they make under the $23,660 threshold, or $455 a week. The new rule would expand overtime coverage to include workers making up to $913 a week.

The overtime threshold has been eaten away by inflation, resulting in a situation where hard-working managers and professionals may in effect earn hourly pay below the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

“The new overtime rule does not necessarily require employers to pay workers more, but it does require them to meet a higher threshold before they can demand all but unlimited work hours,” Patrick said. “The rule will allow more Texans to spend more time with their families, or, if they are needed at work, to receive premium pay for their long hours.”

“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton diminished his office by suggesting the Fair Labor Standards Act, part of the fabric of American workplaces for nearly 80 years, is part of a ‘radical leftist political agenda,'” Patrick said. “In the event the state’s lawsuit succeeds, hundreds of thousands of Texas workers who might work 70-hour weeks with no overtime will have Ken Paxton to thank.”

“Overtime pay is about basic workplace fairness, not Ken Paxton’s political agenda. Ken Paxton has zero concern for working people who are forced to put in free hours at the whim of their employers.”

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5 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    I guess allowing employers and employees to work out their own work and salary arrangements is not an option. So much for the free market at work. Instead, we get yet another “save me, Jeebus” rule, courtesy of Uncle Sam. If there was but one employer, and employees were forced to take it or leave it, I would have more sympathy for this kind of regulation, but that isn’t the way it is. Don’t think you are getting paid enough? Ask for more. Quit and go somewhere else. If you find no one wants to pay you more, start your own business, and if all that fails…..you are getting paid appropriately for the skills you bring to market.

  2. C.L. says:

    Ummm… Bill, you saw that the law was already on the books, right ? That all what’s happening is, the salary threshold is being increased to keep up with inflation, etc. ?

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    @C.L.:

    Bad laws, like the Blue Laws and Jim Crow, should be repealed, not updated. Your mileage may vary, of course.

  4. brad m says:

    I agree with Bill…we need to throw out those pesky child labor laws too.

    Let the free market do its magic!!!

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    @ Brad:

    I agree! Let’s return to the days when kids had paper routes, mowed lawns, did babysitting, did chores, and had lemonade stands. These days, instead of teaching kids about the value of work and responsibility, we teach them about safe spaces, trigger warnings, and deviant sexual practices. We also have the fattest kids on record, on average. Have we improved the society and culture, or made it worse?