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Attorneys General in 15 states oppose overtime rule

May 22, 2019

Attorneys General in 15 states sent a letter urging the US Department of Labor to not adopt a proposed overtime rule.

New York Attorney General Letitia James reported the proposed rule would cause more than 8 million workers, including 600,000 workers in New York, to lose overtime protections.

According to the letter, “the proposed rule would expose millions of workers in our states — including minimum wage and median-wage workers who lack anything resembling the bargaining power and compensation typical of ‘white collar’ workers — to [executive, administrative and professional] misclassification, a practice that remains as pervasive in our states, if not more so, as it was in 2016.”

The Department of Labor’s rule would require workers making up to $679 per week, or $35,308 per year, to automatically be eligible for overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. It would affect workers in “executive, administrative and professional” categories.

Presently, the level under which workers are automaticall eligible for overtime pay is $455 per week, or $23,660 per year. However, a rule proposed in 2016 by the Obama Administration would have raised the level to $913 per week, or $47,476 annually, and then automatically update it every three years. The Obama rule was rejected by a federal court in 2017.

In their letter, Attorneys General argued the lower wage level of the new rule would make uncovering misclassification as exempt from overtime more difficult to enforce.

“Since its adoption, workers in many of our states have relied on the [Fair Labor Standards Act] as their primary guarantee for receiving overtime pay,” according to the letter. “When the salary level is set too low, workers in our states suffer from lower incomes and longer hours.”

Tuesday was the final day for comments on the department’s proposed rule.

“It is the fundamental responsibility of the US Department of Labor to protect the workers of this country. This proposed rule is a complete abdication of that responsibility,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “New York stands with our fellow states in continuing to fight for employees and to enforce laws that hold employers liable for overtime violations.”

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