On 21 November 2016, several news outlets reported on a hypothetical threat posed to an expansion of overtime pay put into place by President Barack Obama.
The stories discussed a new law (which would grant time-and-a-half to workers who earn less than $47,476) and how it could be dismantled by Republicans with the election of Donald Trump:
President Barack Obama likes to say he’ll use the power of the pen to do whatever he can for American workers. But now that Donald Trump has won the White House, the real estate mogul can use the same pen to undo one of Obama’s most far-reaching reforms: bringing overtime protections to millions of workers…
But all of that is now in limbo after the election. Republicans or the Trump administration could undo the changes ― though it wouldn’t be easy.
It turns out that Trump and his fellow Republicans may not have the opportunity to kill the regulation, because a federal judge put a nationwide injunction on it on 22 November 2016, saying the Obama administration overshot their authority by doubling the salary cap (currently $23,660):
The judge, Amos L. Mazzant III of the Eastern District of Texas, ruled that the Obama administration had exceeded its authority by raising the overtime salary limit so significantly. The ruling was hailed by business groups who argued the new rules would be costly and result in fewer hours for workers…
While the injunction is only a temporary measure that suspends the regulation until the judge can issue a ruling on the merits, many said the judge’s language indicated he was likely to strike down the regulation.
According to the 22 November 2016 ruling, 20 states and a number of business entities challenged the “Final Rule,” which was published on 23 May 2016 and would go into effect on 1 December 2016. It reads:
After reading the plain meanings together with the statute, it is clear Congress intended the EAP [executive, administrative, or professional] exemption to apply to employees doing actual executive, administrative, and professional duties. In other words, Congress defined the EAP exemption with regard to duties which does not include a minimum salary level.
If the plaintiffs in the case succeed, there will be no opportunity for Trump and the Republican party to strike Obama’s overtime regulation. However, if it stands, they may take action against it. It is unclear to what extent they will succeed in eliminating the rule, should they choose to attempt to do so.