In November, a federal court in Texas issued a nationwide injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing its updated overtime regulations, which would have required, among other things, that exempt employees be paid a minimum salary of $913 per week. Because of the injunction, the new overtime regulations did not go into effect on December 1, 2016, as planned. However, they have also not completely gone away, and their fate is still uncertain.
The Obama administration immediately appealed the injunction to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and asked for an expedited proceeding, which was granted. The DOL filed its initial brief on December 15, 2016, and the twenty-one states, which had opposed the implementation of the new overtime regulations and were granted the injunction, filed their brief on January 17, 2017. DOL’s final reply brief was originally due January 31, 2017. However, since President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, the Trump administration has asked for three extensions to file its reply brief, all of which have been granted. The first two extension were requested so that the new administration could consider its position on the new regulations and whether it would continue to defend them. Most recently, on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, the Fifth Circuit granted the DOL another two months, until June 30, 2017, to file its brief due to the fact that Alexander Acosta, the nominee for Labor Secretary, has not yet been confirmed.
It is not yet clear what stance the Trump administration will take on the overtime regulations, as there has been no official position taken by the President and nominee Acosta did not take a definitive position during his confirmation hearings. However, even if the administration decides not to pursue the appeal, others may. For example, the AFL-CIO’s Texas branch has petitioned to join the litigation as a defendant due to its concerns that the current administration will not adequately defend the prior administration’s regulations, and the national AFL-CIO has threatened to sue the DOL if it tries to scale back the regulations in any way. Additionally, the lower court, which issued the initial temporary injunction, could still issue a permanent injunction or rule on a pending motion for summary judgment, as it declined to halt proceedings while the Fifth Circuit reviewed the injunction. Therefore, these overtime regulations should still be on employers’ radar, and we will keep you updated on further developments.