Federal judge strikes down another Obama-backed directive for trying to bypass Congress

The Obama administration got another hit from the judicial branch Tuesday when a federal judge effectively struck down a Labor Department rule that would have granted overtime pay to certain salaried workers.

The rule, which was set to go into effect on December 1, was backed by President Obama and would have granted salaried employees earning less than $47,476 annually to receive overtime pay. The current minimum salary level for workers to receive overtime pay is set at $23.660.

U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the Eastern District of Texas issued his injunction on the belief that the plaintiff-states and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — who challenged the rule — were likely to succeed on the merits of the case.

“[T]he Department exceeds its delegated authority and ignores Congress’s intent by raising the minimum salary level such that it supplants the duties test,” Mazzano’s order said. “The Department’s role is to carry out Congress’s intent. If Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test, then Congress, and not the Department, should make that change.”

Although it’s only a temporary injunction, the court’s language made it clear that Mazzant was likely to strike down the Department of Labor’s regulation.

“We are, assuming that this preliminary injunction holds and there isn’t an appeal or some other thing that disrupts it, done with this regulation,” said Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according to The New York Times.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who together with Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt led the 21-state coalition of plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in a statement:

The Obama administration proved true to form when it ordered the Department of Labor to revise its interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Namely, the administration assumes that through force of will alone, it could order a new economic reality into existence. The finalized overtime rule hurts the American worker. It limits workplace flexibility without a corresponding increase in pay and forces employers to cut their workers hours. All in all, it exchanges the advantages of negotiated benefits, personal to each worker, with a one-size-fits-all standard that only looks good in press statements. Not on my watch.

 

The Labor Department, however, defended its regulation in a statement.

“The department’s overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rule-making process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule,” the statement said, according to The Times.

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