Overtime Law: Wait a Minute!!

Nothing like waiting until the 11th hour.

Last May, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) publicized changes to the overtime law. The salary level where overtime is required for many people working more than 40 hours a week has not been increased due to inflation since 1975. The salary amount that is still being used today is $455 per week, or $23,660 annually.

As of December 1st, according to the new regulation, the level was going to increase to $913 per week, or $47,476 annually.

I wrote about this last May, after doing a lot of reading on the subject and speaking with a staff person in the Department of Labor Regional office in New Jersey. While synagogues were among exempt organizations where the majority of operational income came from contributions, employees of synagogues would only be exempt if the following criteria were met:

  • Employees must be white-collar professionals as opposed to manual laborers, administrative support staff or service workers;
  • They must be paid a salary, not per hour; and
  • And they must earn as much or more as the salary threshold, which will be $47,476 as of 12/1/2016.

My observation then was that synagogue staff such as those working in Youth Engagement, Office Managers and other professionals making less than $47,476 would be affected. Meaning that if there were professional staff members at your synagogue earning less than $47,476, they would be entitled to overtime pay – at the rate of time and a half – in weeks where they worked more than 40 hours per week.

Implementation of this new law is now on hold. Following the May ruling by the Department of Labor, 21 State Attorneys Generals and a coalition of business groups filed suit in Federal District Court in Texas to block this new regulation. Last Tuesday, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction halting the implementation of the new overtime law.

The judge’s ruling stated that the reason for the issuance of the injunction was that “if Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test, then Congress and not the Department (Labor) should make that change.”

Legal experts watching this story closely feel that this Federal judge will strike down the May Overtime Ruling by the Department of Labor. The DOL can certainly appeal the judge’s ruling. But there are those who feel that the Department of Labor under a Trump administration could withdraw from the case and not pursue it.

So right now, all that synagogues and every other employer – and employees – can do is wait.

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