AUSTIN - A lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against the federal government could lead to millions of Texas and American workers losing their access to overtime pay.
The partisan lawsuit from 21 Republicans state officials across the country announced Tuesday seeks to overturn the Department of Labor’s move in 2014 to revise the overtime regulations to raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455 a week to $913 a week, or $47,476 a year. The rule is set to take effect later this year.
This means that workers who were salaried and earned between $23,600 and $47,476 who weren’t entitled to overtime pay before, but could still be forced to work extra hours, now qualify for time-and-a-half pay from their employer.
Paxton’s lawsuit takes aim at this saying the Department of Labor disregarded original Congressional intent by making the move about salary and not including whether the person is performing “white collar duties” for white collar exempt status.
Paxton also is harshly critical of the Labor Department for including an automatic indexing mechanism that will raise the salary level every three years, regardless of economic conditions.
“Indexing not only evades the statutory command to delimit the exception from ‘time to time,’ as well as the notice and comment requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act, it also ignores DOL’s prior admissions that ‘nothing in the legislative or regulatory history … would support indexing or automic increases… the Department believes that adopting such approaches in this rulemaking is both contrary to congressional intent and inappropriate,’” Paxton’s suit states.
Another target for Paxton’s lawsuit is that states must pay overtime to state employees that qualify if the state employee earn a salary less than an amount determined by the Executive Branch of the federal government.
“The threat to States’ budgets and, consequently, the system of federalism, is palpable,” Paxton’s suit states.
Paxton claims with no limiting principle a president could exhaust a state budget through the overtime rule and that by forcing states to shift resources would “effectively impose the Federal Executive’s police wishes on State and local governments.”
The States claim in the lawsuit that they will have to reduce or eliminate some essential government services and functions if the new overtime rule was allowed to move forward.
The states in the lawsuit also threatened that they will reclassify some employees as hour and reduce their hours to avoid paying any overtime while also increasing the workload on those who remain exempt.
The lawsuit asks for both injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment and was filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.
(© 2016 KVUE)