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What does the block on the overtime rule mean for business?

In the midst of the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey, and prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irma, a flicker of other news might have caught the eyes of employers and employees in New York City. A federal judge in Texas issued his final decision blocking implementation of a federal rule that would have raised overtime pay.

The proposed rule had been slated to take effect at the end of last year. It would have benefitted an estimated 4 million American workers by raising the salary bar for the so-called "white collar" exemption from overtime pay. With the order, the door is now open for the Trump administration to come up with a new rule. Many observers believe the salary bar will still increase, just not by as much as the Obama administration called for. What does this mean for New York employers and workers?

The answer to that question, as is often the case where the law is concerned, depends on circumstances. State and federal laws both say "non-exempt" employees are entitled to overtime pay for any hours 40 they work in a week.

But some jobs that are exempt from overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are non-exempt under New York law. Because of the variance, it is easy for employment disputes to arise. Seeking a skilled attorney's counsel, regardless of what side of the fence you are on, is always a good idea, especially when the initial consultation is free.

If you are an employer who anticipated the Obama-era increase and changed pay practices, you may wonder what you should do now. What follows should not be taken as legal advice, but some legal experts agree that if steps have been taken to meet the terms of the now-defunct rule, employers shouldn't go back on their word. It could erode worker morale and create confusion.

For employers who waited, observers suggest they use the time provided by the Texas ruling to examine policies on job classification and pay scales before a new rule comes down the pike. For now, it's a business matter, rather than a legal one.

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