Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Oklahoma along with 20 other states filed a complaint in federal court challenging the United States Department of Labor’s new overtime rule.
If implemented, the new rule (without congressional approval) will more than double the minimum salary overtime threshold for public and private workers. The impact for businesses and state and local governments is a substantial increase in their employment costs, which may force them to eliminate some services and even layoff employees. The complaint urges the court to prevent the implementation of the new rule before it takes effect, which is scheduled for December 1, 2016.
“The policy discussion surrounding the minimum wage is ongoing at both the Congressional and state levels through meaningful debate. But now the President, as he has time and again, is stepping in to stop the debate by imposing his policies arbitrarily and unlawfully. The President does not have the authority to dictate to Oklahoma or any other state how they should budget state employee salaries,” Pruitt said. “Working families across the state could face increased hardships resulting from this new rule, such as hours being reduced, salaries being slashed, and overtime hours going unrecognized. This is yet another example of the administration’s ongoing efforts to reach beyond its constitutional authority, ultimately costing Oklahomans their jobs and the state millions of dollars.”
On March 13, 2014, President Obama ordered the Department of Labor to revise the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime exemption for executive, administrative and professional employees – the so-called “white collar” exemption – to account for the federal minimum wage. On May 23, 2016, the Department of Labor issued the final new overtime rule, which doubles the salary-level threshold for employees to be exempt from overtime. After December 1, 2016, all employees are entitled to overtime pay if they earn less than $913 a week – including state and local government employees – even if they perform executive, administrative, professional or other white collar jobs. Additionally, the new rule contains a ratcheting mechanism to automatically increase the salary-level every three years without going through the standard rule-making process required by federal law.
States joining Oklahoma in opposition of the new rule are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
State Rep. Charles Ortega voiced support for Pruitt and his stance against the Obama administration’s new overtime rule.
“I want to thank Attorney General Pruitt for reacting quickly and supporting Oklahoma small and large businesses from federal overreach,” said Ortega, R-Altus. “I stand with him and will support him and his efforts.
“I am outraged that if this new overtime rule is implemented it will double the minimum salary overtime threshold for workers both public and private, all without Congressional authorization.”