- Signs that the Labor Dept. might not fight opposition to the overtime rule have surfaced, reports SHRM. Reince Priebus, President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff and the former head of the Republican National Committee, previously issued a memo on Jan. 20 freezing federal regulations that haven’t yet gone into effect.
- The freeze might indicate that the Trump administration is poised to reverse some of the pro-labor regulations the Obama administration tried to enact, especially the controversial overtime rule.
- On Jan. 26, The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Department of Justice a 30-day extension to its motion to file a reply brief in litigation over the rule, giving the administration time to review the case. The DOJ's reply, originally due Feb. 7., will follow an amicus brief filed by business groups on Jan. 24.
Priebus' memo doesn't guarantee the Labor Dept. will stop pushing for the overtime rule, but Trump has already reversed Obama’s executive orders, and he and Republican lawmakers have vowed to undo regulations they say are burdensome to businesses.
Whoever is confirmed as Trump’s pick to head the DOL, be it Andrew Puzder or some other politically like-minded nominee, the overtime rule won’t likely survive the president’s first term. The DOJ’s part in the litigation appears to be another setback for the overtime rule.
The bigger issue at play is identifying which workers are exempt from receiving overtime pay. The current rule shifts the criteria from workers’ duties to their pay rates. Under the original definition, exempt workers usually were white collar employees with administrative duties, including hiring, firing and managing workers. Businesses rightfully point out this shift in their amicus brief.
However, not all workers classified as exempt had administrative duties under the original rule. Employers who possibly misclassified workers , or saw an opportunity to avoid paying workers overtime by classifying them as exempt might have contributed, in part, to the new rule.