Although the Department of Labor (DOL) is not a governing body, it is a government agency that has been charged with protecting American workers from employers who might try to take advantage of them. Because it is not part of the legislative branch of government, the DOL cannot make laws, but it can make rules. But a question that often arises is whether those rules are enforceable.
The specific rule in question this time is one in which the DOL raised the minimum salary a worker must be paid before they can qualify for the overtime exemption under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA put the salary limit at $23,660 per year, but that was more than ten years ago, and under the Obama administration, the DOL more than doubled it to $47,476 per year.
The new rule faced massive opposition from 21 states and numerous business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which filed a lawsuit against the DOL, claiming the department did not have the authority to either create or enforce such rules. The rule was supposed to go into effect on December 1, 2016, but the week before, a federal judge filed an injunction against the rule.
The injunction was meant to be a temporary measure by which the court could gain more time to consider the dispute. But since the court still has not reached a final decision on the matter, what are employers supposed to do in the meantime?
According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Chipotle, the court’s injunction against the DOL’s enforcement of the rule does not prevent other bodies (such as a class of workers) from enforcing the rule.
The plaintiffs have therefore filed a class action overtime lawsuit against their employer in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey. The lawsuit alleges Chipotle failed to provide overtime compensation to employees who earned between $23,660 and $47,476 per year and worked more than eight hours a day or forty hours a week. Despite the injunction against the DOL’s ability to enforce the overtime rule, the wage and hour lawsuit claims the injunction did not stop the rule from going into effect on December 1, 2016.
If the district court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, it could have massive consequences for employers all over the country. Not only will Chipotle owe millions in back wages to its workers who were classified as overtime exempt while making less than $47,476, but employers throughout the U.S. may have to adjust their employee classifications if the court rules the new DOL rule is valid.
Legal experts currently disagree as to whether the federal injunction prevented the new rule from going into effect. The DOL appealed the injunction under the Obama administration, but the new administration has said it needs more time to consider the issue. It has until June 30th to reach a decision, so we may have our answer before the lawsuit against Chipotle goes to trial.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, DoubleTree, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America, Staybridge Suites, Best Western, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Chili’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Berwyn and Cicero. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Joilet, Belvedere and Rockford overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.