AG Shapiro Leads Multi-State Coalition Opposing Federal Rollback of Overtime Protections

May 21, 2019 | Topic: Rights

HARRISBURG —Attorney General Josh Shapiro today led a coalition of 15 State Attorneys General with New York Attorney General Letitia James in urging the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) not to adopt its proposal which reverses federal overtime protections for workers. It is estimated that under the proposed rule, more than 8 million workers will lose overtime protections compared to the previous rule.

“The hardworking people of Pennsylvania have a right to be fairly compensated for their long hours and hard work, and I am committed to protecting that right,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed rule would drastically and unfairly decrease the number of workers who qualify for overtime compensation. This is unacceptable. I’m proud to partner with Attorneys General from across the country to oppose this change and stand up for the rights of our workers.”

DOL’s proposed rule would change the white-collar exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which currently exempts individuals in executive, administrative, and professional “white-collar” positions from overtime protections. Historically, in order for an employer to classify an employee as exempt, the employee must:

  1. Be paid a fixed salary (the “salary basis test”);
  2. Be paid a minimum specified salary (the “salary level test”); and
  3. Have a job with duties that are executive, administrative, or professional in nature (the “duties test”).

In 2016, DOL adopted a rule that raised the minimum salary level set in 2004 from a $455 in weekly earnings to $913 in weekly earnings. This change resulted from a review which concluded that the higher salary level would be an effective way to protect employees against misclassification and would be consistent with DOL’s historical practice. DOL also included an automatic updating provision that would increase the salary level every three years. The Trump Administration’s proposed rule seeks to rescind the 2016 Final Rule, which was never allowed to go into effect, by lowering the salary level from $913 to $679 and would eliminate the automatic updating provision.

The comment letter details the state’s concerns that DOL’s weakening of the salary level test will make it harder for the states to enforce labor laws, and it will lead to more FLSA violations by employers who misclassify workers as white-collar employees.

Today’s comment letter was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and New York Attorney General Letitia James, and was joined by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia. The letter can be read in full here.

# # #