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Salary threshold increases getting review

By Mike O’Brien  bio

DOL sends proposed FLSA salary threshold increases to OMB for final review: On Aug. 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor sent its proposed salary threshold rule change to the White House Office of Management and Budget for a final review. This rule would raise the salary threshold for “white-collar” FLSA exemptions (executive, administrative, and professional) from $23,660 annually to $35, 308 annually. DOL’s proposed rule also includes an increase in the salary threshold for the highly compensated employee exemption, which has a relaxed duty test, from $100,000 to $147,414. Experts believe these new rules will make about 1 million workers eligible for overtime pay. Although this new rule could be finalized very soon, court battles are expected. You may read more about this development on SHRM’s website at:

US House of Representatives passes bill to raise federal minimum wage to $15: On July 18, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act with a vote of 231-199, largely along party lines. The bill would gradually raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by the year 2025. After 2025, the federal minimum wage rage rate would be indexed to the median hourly wage of all workers. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 1.7 million workers (about 2% of all workers) earned wages at the federal minimum wage rate in 2018. In early July 2019, a Congressional Budget Office study projected that the Raise the Wage Act would raise the wages of 27 million workers, but lead to 1.3 million fewer jobs. The bill stands little chance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

3/4 federal court rules that visa worker threatened with deportation can sue employer for trafficking: The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) makes it illegal to obtain the labor or services of a person by means of force or threats of force, by means of harm or threats of harm, or by means of “the abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process.” Violations of this law are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines. Additionally, on July 25, 2019, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an immigrant on a temporary worker H-2B visa could sue his employer for a violation of the TVPA where the worker alleged that his employer threatened to revoke its sponsorship, thereby subjecting him to deportation, if he complained about not receiving overtime pay. The facts as alleged in this case are egregious. Still, the case serves as a good reminder that employers who sponsor foreign visa workers should have written policies in place about their sponsorship and provide training to managers and their temporary workers about them.

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