Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez discusses the final overtime rule.

The Department of Labor on Friday asked a federal appellate court to expedite the appeal process related to a preliminary injunction that put on hold a new rule that would have extended overtime eligibility to more than 4 million workers nationwide who currently are not eligible. The department had filed an appeal to the injunction the previous day.

The Labor Department requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans issue a ruling on the expedition of the appeal by Dec. 8 and for all briefs in the case to be filed between Dec. 16 and Feb. 7.

“Our opening brief will show that the preliminary injunction rests on an error of law and should be reversed,” the department’s motion said.

The overtime rule, finalized in May and opposed by several associations representing senior living operators, called for doubling the salary threshold — from $23,660 to $47,476 per year — under which most salaried workers would be guaranteed overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week, and that threshold would be updated automatically every three years. The rule was to go into effect Dec. 1.

In granting a preliminary injunction Nov. 22, Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas said that the plaintiffs — 21 states and more than 50 other business organizations — likely would be able to make a case that the Labor Department did not have the authority to set the salary level or automatic updating mechanism as described in the rule. In its motion for expedition, however, the department said that a previous court ruling held that the department did have the authority to use a salary-level test to identify workers who are exempt from overtime pay.

The plaintiffs oppose expedition of the appeal of the injunction, according to the Labor Department’s motion, even though plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction of the final rule was expedited at their request.

“Having obtained a nationwide preliminary injunction on an expedited basis, plaintiffs cannot now reasonably object to expedition of this appeal,” the motion stated. “Moreover, the briefing schedule that we propose in this motion is considerably more generous than the expedited briefing schedule that was set by the district court at plaintiffs’ request.”