Kansas A.G. pleased with federal court order blocking overtime pay rule for 4 million

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (KSN File Photo)
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (KSN File Photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW)  — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt Tuesday praised a federal court judge’s decision to block implementation of a rule imposed by President Barack Obama’s administration that would have made about 4 million more higher-earning workers across the country beginning next month.

The U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas granted the nationwide preliminary injunction that prevents the Department of Labor from implementing the changes on December 1 while the regulation’s legality is examined in more detail by the court. The order comes after 21 states sued the agency to block the rule before it took effect.

“Once again, a federal court has stepped in to block an illegal regulation sought by a federal agency that thought itself unfettered by the laws Congress actually passed,” Schmidt said. “This injunction will give breathing room to many Kansas businesses, nonprofits, taxpayers and local governments by delaying the costly and illegal new regulations while we challenge their validity in court. I’m hopeful the new presidential administration will withdraw these illegal regulations soon after January 20 and make further litigation unnecessary.”

The regulation sought to shrink the so-called “white-collar exemption” and more than double the salary threshold under which employers must pay overtime to their workers. Overtime protections under the regulation would apply to workers making up to $913 a week, or $47,476 a year, and the threshold would readjust every three years to reflect changes in average wages.

The court agreed with plaintiffs that the Department of Labor exceeds its delegated authority with the rule, and that it could cause irreparable harm if it was not quickly stopped.

The Department of Labor had no immediate comment on the order on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said after the original lawsuit was filed in September that he was confident in the legality of the rule, calling the lawsuit a partisan and obstructionist tactic. He noted that overtime protections have receded over the years. They applied to 62 percent of U.S. full-time salaried workers in 1975 and just 7 percent today.

“The overtime rule is designed to restore the intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the crown jewel of worker protections in the United States,” Perez said in September. “I look forward to vigorously defending our efforts to give more hardworking people a meaningful chance to get by.”