New overtime rule may be released

Workers in the Houston area may be under new guidelines regarding overtime in the future, but it is unclear how long the process will take. In May 2016, an overtime rule issued by the Department of Labor raised the minimum salary allowing so-called "white-collar" exemptions to overtime to $47,476 from $23,660. The "highly compensated" exemption level went to $134,004 from $100,000. Furthermore, every three years, there were supposed to be automatic increases.

However, these changes were subsequently found to be invalid by a federal district court in Texas later that year, and after initially appealing, the DOL decided to write a new rule instead. It is anticipated that the white-collar exemption will be in the low $30,000 range.

In January, it was reported that the rule was ready to be submitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Although the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL said in late 2018 that the new proposal would be available by March 2019, OIRA has up to 90 days to review it. Furthermore, that review period can be extended. The review process makes sure that the regulation complies with certain principles. These include a cost-benefit analysis, considering alternatives and the incorporation of public comment.

People who believe their employers are violating wage and hour laws may want to consult an attorney about their rights. These violations could be related to whether the person is exempt from overtime based on salary or they could be related to another infraction. For example, an employee might be misclassified as a contractor in an effort to bypass these laws. Some employers may try to require employees to complete certain actions, such as donning protective gear after arriving at work, off the clock. An employer who has violated wage and hour laws may be required to pay compensation to employees.

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