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Attorney General William Tong

05/24/2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG JOINS MULTISTATE COALITION TO OPPOSE FEDERAL ROLLBACK OF OVERTIME PROTECTIONS

Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 15 state attorneys general in urging the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) not to adopt its proposal which reverses federal overtime protections for workers. Under the proposed rule, it is estimated that more than 8 million workers will lose overtime protections.

"The U.S. Department of Labor's chief responsibility is to protect our workers, their right to fair wages and benefits, and to enforce our labor laws. Eliminating the overtime protections for more than 8 million workers across the country, and denying them wages they are legally owed, is a clear abandonment of those responsibilities. When salary levels are set too low, workers suffer from lower incomes and longer hours. I stand with the 15 other state attorneys general ready to protect workers and their right to overtime protections," said Attorney General Tong.

DOL’s proposed rule would change the "white-collar" exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the current DOL rule, those employed in executive, administrative, and professional “white-collar” positions are generally exempt from the overtime protections available under the FLSA.

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 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 the New York Attorney General Letitia James and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, 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.

Assistant Attorney General Richard Sponzo assisted the Attorney General with this matter.


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