A federal court in Texas has ruled that there is a substantial likelihood that a proposed new DOL rule that increases the threshold salary for exempt employees violates the law. Earlier this year, the Department of Labor published new rules, one of which raised the threshold salary for exempt employees from $23,660 to $47,476. The Texas court issued an injunction preventing the new overtime rules from going into effect. The rules were to have taken effect on December 1 of 2017. The DOL likely will appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the issue may go all the way to the Supreme Court. But for now, implementation of the new salary threshold rule for exempt employees is on hold. The decision, along with a new administration, makes it unclear whether and when the new rules will take effect. How should employers respond to the ruling?
Nothing in the injunction prevents you from moving forward and changing compensation plans for some employees—raising some salaries or converting them to hourly nonexempt status.
If you want to hold off on increasing an exempt employee’s salary but keep him or her in an exempt status, you can. Right now, the injunction leaves in place the old salary basis test. If the injunction is lifted, you may have to implement some changes quickly—so you will need to pay attention to the legal news.
If you want to change some of your formerly exempt folks to nonexempt hourly status, you can. Paying someone on an hourly basis is always okay as long as you pay required overtime.