Courtroom Gavel

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday that puts on hold a Department of Labor final rule that would have extended overtime eligibility to many senior living employees and others effective Dec. 1. The department said it disagrees with the decision and continues to believe that the rule is legal.

The order by Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas was in response to legal challenges filed by 21 states and more than 50 other business organizations. Mazzant said that the plaintiffs 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.

The overtime rule, finalized in May and opposed by several associations representing senior living operators, calls 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 changes would affect approximately 4.2 million workers not currently eligible for overtime under federal law, according to the Labor Department.

The judge’s injunction does not nullify the rule, but it stops it from being implemented while additional court proceedings are held to determine whether it is legal.

In a statement, Labor Department representatives said that the department is considering its legal options.

“We strongly disagree with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans,” the statement said. “The department’s overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rulemaking process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule.”