Texas Judge Terminates Obama Overtime Rule With Extreme Prejudice

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


From the LA Times:

A Texas judge blocked President Obama’s bid to expand overtime pay protections to millions of Americans on Tuesday, thwarting a key presidential priority just days before it was set to take effect. The Labor Department rule would have doubled the salary level at which hourly workers must be paid extra for overtime pay, from $23,660 to $47,476. Siding with business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Texas District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III halted it.

Hmmm. This sounds oddly familiar:

It’s the fourth time in 21 months that a federal judge in Texas has issued a nationwide injunction blocking one of President Barack Obama’s executive orders [actually, it was a federal regulation –ed]. The other Obama initiatives stymied in Texas courtrooms involved shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation, mandating bathroom access for transgender students, and requiring labor-violation disclosures by federal contractors.

….U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III in Sherman, Texas, rejected a request by the federal government to limit any order to the states that filed the lawsuit and issued a preliminary injunction blocking the new salary cutoff nationwide.

I guess that’s that. If you want a local judge to block an Obama initiative and apply his ruling to the entire country, go to Texas. Apparently they’re all willing to do it down there.

In case you’re interested, here’s the key paragraph from the judge’s ruling:

To be exempt from overtime, the regulations require an employee to (1) have [executive, administrative or professional] duties; (2) be paid on a salary basis; and (3) meet a minimum salary level….The salary level was purposefully set low to “screen[] out the obviously nonexempt employees making an analysis of duties in such cases unnecessary.”…But this significant increase to the salary level creates essentially a de facto salary-only test.

In other words, exempt employees are supposed to be executive, administrative or professional workers paid on a salary basis. The salary level itself is included in the regulations solely as a convenience. It’s pretty much inconceivable that anyone making less than $23,000 has any bona fide EAP responsibilities, so there’s no point in bothering with the other two tests.

However, someone making $47,000 might very well have genuine EAP responsibilities. Thus, categorically excluding everyone under that level means that some EAP workers will likely get classified as nonexempt solely on the basis of a salary test. This thwarts the will of Congress, which specifically intended that EAP duties had to be taken into account.

That’s the judge’s ruling, anyway. I’ll bet Obama is sorry now that he appointed him.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.