The status of the new federal overtime pay rule is in flux after a federal judge called it an over-reach for the U.S. Department of Labor and ordered an injunction blocking the measure from taking effect. The new rule, which mandated overtime pay for salaried employees earning less than $47,476 per year, was set to begin December 1, 2016, though it was strongly opposed by a clutch of associations, corporations, and Republican governors. Opponents argued that the rule would harm businesses and drive jobs overseas, while advocates maintained that the former cap of $23,500 was exceedingly low and did not adequately protect millions of workers from long, unpaid hours.
Exhibition industry associations, including the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and the American Society of Association Executives, took a more measured tone in their opposition, asking that the salary hike be phased in over a three-year period rather than instituted all at once. They have argued that the trade show world has the epitome of irregular hours that rise and fall based on events and can sometimes push workers well beyond the 40-hours-per-week standard.
But in his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant (above right) of Texas called the new salary cap “arbitrary” and he questioned the logic used to determine exemption rules. President Obama first issued the presidential order in 2014, and a statement released by the Department of Justice suggests the agency is preparing for a fight to defend it. “The department strongly disagrees 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,” its statement said. “The department’s Overtime Final Rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rule-making process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule. We are currently considering all of our legal options.”