TX judge halts overtime increase

Long-term care companies are getting an early holiday gift from a Texas judge, who has granted a temporary injunction to stop the overtime wage changes slated to begin Dec. 1.

Judge Amos Mazzant of the U.S. Eastern District of Texas granted the halt requested by 21 states, postponing the implementation of a rule which would raise the minimum income necessary to qualify for overtime.

The new Department of Labor (DOL) overtime rule doubles the minimum income threshold to qualify for overtime from $23,660 to $47,476, or about $913 a week. The new parameters could bring the number of workers eligible for overtime pay to 4 million.

Many praised the measure, saying it was a long-overdue adjustment to years of inflation. "We strongly disagree 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,” the DOL wrote in its statement following the injunction. “The department's overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rulemaking process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule. We are currently considering all of our legal options."

But the wage increase has caused outcry in many industries—including long-term care and senior living—which argued the increase would cause disproportionate financial hardship for facilities whose staffing includes a high ratio of lower-wage workers.

Mazzant seems likely to order a permanent injunction after a review period. "The State Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits because the Final Rule exceeds the Department's authority," he wrote in his initial ruling.

The decision is the second time in two months that a federal district judge has granted an injunction to block the implementation of Federal rulemaking.

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