Labor Department appeals overtime injunction

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U.S. Department of Labor seal
U.S. Department of Labor seal

The Department of Labor on Thursday appealed a Nov. 22 temporary injunction that put on hold a final rule that would have extended overtime eligibility to many senior living employees and others. The action, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, came on the same day that the rule was to go into effect.

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.

Last week's 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.

After Mazzant's ruling, the department said that it remained confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule.

Nondiscrimination final rule, anti-retaliation rules

Also Thursday, the Labor Department's Civil Rights Center issued a final rule updating existing nondiscrimination and equal opportunity regulations of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The rule expands the explanation of the obligations to prevent discrimination based on national origin and provide services to individuals with limited English proficiency; makes changes to reflect the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008; and clarifies that sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions as well as transgender status, gender identity and sex-based stereotyping. More information about the rule, which is effective Jan. 3, is available on the department's website.

Thursday also saw the enactment of the anti-retaliation rules of the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Under the rules, senior living communities and other employers must inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation; implement procedures for reporting injuries and illnesses that are deemed reasonable and do not deter workers from reporting; and incorporate the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against workers for reporting injuries and illnesses.

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