Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

December 8, 2016

New OT rules placed on hold

Judge issues injunction

New federal overtime rules that would have made some 4.2 million workers nationwide eligible for mandatory overtime pay — including some 1,400 people at Pitt — are on hold indefinitely following a Texas federal judge’s Nov. 22 decision.

In response to challenges by 21 states and more than 50 business organizations, U.S. District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant III blocked changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that were to take effect Dec. 1.

Employees covered by FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements (categorized as “non-exempt”) are entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Currently, full-time salaried workers who earn up to $23,660 per year are eligible for overtime pay; the new rule would have raised that threshold to $47,476.

In a Nov. 29 message to University employees, Cheryl Johnson, vice chancellor for Human Resources, stated that Pitt positions that were to move from exempt to non-exempt would remain unchanged pending resolution of the injunction.

However, employees who were notified of salary changes related to the pending FLSA rule changes will see those raises as promised, Johnson’s Nov. 29 memo stated.

Some employees whose pay was near the proposed threshold received pay increases in order to remain exempt. About 600 fulltime postdoctoral associates and scholars, research associates and research faculty were among about 700-800 Pitt employees whose salaries were adjusted to the $47,476 threshold, said Steve Ferber, assistant vice chancellor, Human Resources.

The last-minute timing of the injunction forced speedy decisions on how to respond. Ferber said University leaders, in consultation with peer schools, weighed the options.

“There isn’t a good answer,” he said, noting that different institutions arrived at different solutions. Some put all changes on hold; others implemented them all as planned, he said. About 40 percent of the schools the University consulted with aligned with Pitt’s decision, he said.

It’s unclear when the federal issue may be resolved. The U.S. Department of Labor appealed the judge’s decision Dec. 1 and is seeking an expedited hearing.

If that review isn’t set in motion before the Republican administration takes office, the proposed rule could be altered or abandoned.

“The bottom line is nobody knows. We’re in uncharted waters here,” said Ferber.

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

Filed under: Feature,Volume 49 Issue 8

Leave a Reply