Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of New FLSA Overtime Rules

A federal judge in Texas has issued a preliminary injunction against the implementation of new overtime rules for exempt white-collar employees that were set to take effect on December 1, 2016.

The new rules increase the minimum salary that executive, administrative, or professional employees must receive from $455 per week to $913 per week, and provide for periodic increases based upon average salary levels. The existing regulations had not been updated in decades and permitted unscrupulous employers to designate certain employees as “executives” and pay them $455 per week with no right to overtime compensation regardless of how many hours they work.

Twenty-one states filed suit to block the implementation of the new rules claiming the increase was illegal and would cause them irreparable financial harm. Yesterday, US District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant issued a 20 page ruling concluding that the states have successfully established a prima facia case that the new rules and the automatic updating mechanism go beyond what Congress authorized the US Department of Labor to do through its regulatory powers.

What the ruling means to fire departments really depends on the department. For most fire departments, the ruling will have absolutely no effect. Departments that are affected are those that pay officers less that $913 per week and consider them to be exempt executive. Based on Judge Mazzant’s ruling, those departments can continue to treat those officers as exempt for the time being. Enforcement of the new rules has effectively been stayed.

Fire departments affected by the rules must remain attentive as an appeal is likely and could result in the new rules being re-instituted prior to December 1, 2016, or shortly thereafter.

Here is a copy of the decision: nevada-v-dol-injunction-2016-11-22

For the most up-to-date information on the FLSA and how it impacts fire and EMS organizations, please join us at one of our upcoming FLSA For Fire Departments conferences.

December 6, 7, 8, 2016Mesa, AZ hosted by the Mesa Fire & Medical Department   Details / Register

January 31, February 2, 3 2017Georgetown, TX hosted by the Georgetown Fire Department   Details / Register

May 9-11, 2017Miami-Dade, Florida hosted by the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue   Details / Register

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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