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Federal judge blocks Obama overtime pay rule days before it takes effect

The judge wrote in his opinion that the U.S. Department of Labor does not have the authority to change salary levels and overtime requirements, only Congress.

By Stephen Feller
Federal judge blocks Obama overtime pay rule days before it takes effect
New regulations that would extend overtime pay requirements to more than two million U.S. workers were blocked by a federal judge Tuesday on grounds the department does not have the authority to do so. U.S. President Barack Obama signed the presidential memorandum increasing overtime protections for workers during an event in the East Room of the White House in in 2014. File photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A federal judge issued an injunction to prevent a new Labor Department rule that would have made millions more employees across the United States qualify for overtime pay.

Texas Judge Amos Mazzant blocked the rule from going to into effect on Dec. 1 on grounds that President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Labor do not have statutory authority to make changes to the maximum salary requiring overtime pay and automatic updating of the amount of overtime pay.

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The regulation, set up by the Labor Department and signed by Obama, was an effort to increase the national minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, at least for people working more than 40 hours per week. The regulation is expected to extend overtime eligibility to about 4.2 million people.

The rule would require people making less than $47,476 per year to be paid overtime, a significant increase of the current federal salary cutoff of $23,660. The salary requirement was last updated in 2004.

"This is an extreme and unsupportable decision and is a clear overreach by the Court," said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, which helped Obama and the Labor Department write the rule. He called the ruling "a disappointment to millions of workers who are forced to work long hours with no extra compensation."

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Mazzant's decision says he believes the department overstepped its bounds by issuing the rule, which he wrote is the job of Congress.

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