Federal court blocks new Obama administration overtime regulations

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt
November 23, 2016

A federal court in Texas today agreed with Kansas and 20 other states that dramatic changes to federal overtime rules likely are unlawful and has temporarily blocked their implementation, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced yesterday.

The new rules, that were set to take effect December 1, are blocked indefinitely by a nationwide injunction entered late yesterday afternoon by Judge Amos L. Mazzant of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The order comes in response to a lawsuit filed in September by Kansas and 20 other states challenging the validity of the new federal regulations, which were proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Once again, a federal court has stepped in to block an illegal regulation sought by a federal agency that thought itself unfettered by the laws Congress actually passed,” Schmidt said. “This injunction will give breathing room to many Kansas businesses, nonprofits, taxpayers and local governments by delaying the costly and illegal new regulations while we challenge their validity in court. I’m hopeful the new presidential administration will withdraw these illegal regulations soon after January 20 and make further litigation unnecessary.”

Under the new regulations, the minimum salary threshold below which overtime would be required would be more than doubled to $47,892 from $23,660 and would then automatically increase in subsequent years. Kansas and the other states argued that the U.S. Department of Labor lacked legal authority from Congress to impose the dramatic increase, and the court agreed.

“With the Final Rule, the Department (of Labor) exceeds its delegated authority and ignores Congress’s intent by raising the minimum salary level such that it supplants the duties test,” the Court wrote. “Consequently, the Final Rule … is unlawful. The Department’s role is to carry out Congress’s intent. If Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test, then Congress, and not the Department, should make that change.”

The Court specifically pointed to the harm to Kansas public services if the new overtime rule were allowed to go into effect. It referenced the effect of the new rule on staffing at the Department for Children and Families and the Department of Corrections.

“[A]gencies with budget constraints, such as the two in Kansas, have relatively few options to comply with the Final Rule – all of which have a detrimental effect on government services that benefit the public,” the Court wrote.

The injunction entered late today blocks the new overtime regulation nationwide. Consequently, the injunction means businesses and nonprofits will not be required to meet the December 1 deadline for complying with the new overtime rules.

A copy of the court’s order blocking the overtime regulation is available at bit.ly/2foVDxt.


Close