Governor Matt Bevin announced that he was joining a frivolous lawsuit filed in federal court in Texas that will try to keep new overtime rules from coming into effect. There are multiple reports: Bevin Joins Lawsuit Challenging New Overtime Pay Rule, Bevin Joins Lawsuit Against New Overtime Rules, Kentucky Joins Lawsuit Against Paid Overtime Changes. This lawsuit is a perfect illustration of the intersection of political payback and the consequences of elections. A total of 21 states, all with Republican Governors, are joined in the suit. The voters in those states, including Kentucky, have elected governors dedicated, it would appear, to the principle that it should be harder and harder for ordinary working people to get ahead and have a decent life.
I've written many times before about the disappearance of overtime for American working people over the course of last few decades, a time span that not coincidentally has seen working Americans work more and more hours just to stay in place, while income equality cleaves our country. See So Why Did Overtime Disappear?, New Overtime Rules Proposed.
A few facts: in 1975 65% of salaried workers in the United States were paid overtime but only 11% were in 2013. Why you ask? because the minimum salary threshold for the overtime exemption has stayed so low. For quite some time, the threshold has been $23,660 per year, which is equivalent to about $11.38 per hour based on a 40 hour work week. If this threshold were at the same relative level as in 1975 (which means taking inflation into account), it would be $1327 per week or $69,000 per year.
The new overtime rules put out by President Obama and his Department of Labor raise the threshold only to $50,440 per year, way short of the 1975 standard.
The suit is frivolous: the new rule is simply an exercise of regulatory authority that Presidents and the Department of Labor have had and have used many times over the course of the many decades since overtime became the law back in the 1930's. They haven't used this power enough, since the salary threshold is so low and has caused overtime to nearly disappear. The filing of this frivolous lawsuit is just political payback to the corporations and PACs that have caused the Republican Party to lose touch with working Americans.
Lexington, Kentucky overtime lawyer Robert Abell helps individuals and employees recover the overtime and wages they've earned but not been paid; contact him at 859-254-7076.