A U.S. District Court judge has blocked the White House’s plan to extend overtime labor protections that were scheduled to take effect Dec. 1. In his Nov. 22 ruling, Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the Eastern District of Texas, said President Barack Obama's administration exceeded its authority by raising the overtime eligibility limit and including an automatic updating mechanism every three years.
Currently, salaried workers making less than $23,660 are entitled to overtime protections. The blocked federal changes would have increased that threshold to $47,476.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced earlier this year that it was updating overtime regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to “simplify and modernize” the rules.
The president said regulations “have not kept up with our modern economy” and “millions of Americans lack the protections of overtime and even the right to minimum wage.”
The current salary threshold covers an estimated 7 percent of full-time salaried workers, according to the DOL, down from 62 percent in 1975.
“We strongly disagree with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans,” the DOL said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The department’s overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rulemaking process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule.”
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of 21 states, Nevada vs. United States Department of Labor, which was consolidated with a legal challenge filed by more than 50 businesses.
Many organizations had already begun the process of making necessary changes to ensure compliance with the new rule before the judge issued the preliminary injunction.
GuideStone Financial Resources (guidestone.org), the financial services auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention, posted an overview of the now-defunct changes to its website Oct. 17, outlining how the overtime rules apply to ministries.
The document said, “It’s likely that all businesses – including ministries – will be affected by this change.”
The regulations would not have entitled pastors to time-and-a-half pay for labor over 40 hours, based on judicial and regulatory precedents, but many church support staff and other employees of religious organizations would have qualified.