Listen to this post

If you’re like me, your brain can only handle so much during the summer months. Between vacations and the start of school, it can be easy to overlook some of the employment law developments from the last month or two. So I thought I’d use the next few blog posts to provide a catch up.

First up: The United States Department of Labor last week released its notice of proposed rulemaking which would significantly raise the minimum salary to qualify for a white collar exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the DOL during the Obama Administration tried something similar though it was later put on hold through a district court injunction. The Trump Administration later abandoned the proposed change and therefore the salary levels have remained the same.

The latest development involves proposed adjustments to the FLSA’s salary level requirements for the executive, administrative and professional exemptions. Under these changes, the Department of Labor aims to refine the criteria for identifying bona fide Executive, Administrative or Professional Employees. Specifically, the DOL is proposing raising the weekly salary from $684 per week to $1059 per week ($55,068 annually). Anyone making below this threshold would be eligible for overtime regardless of their duties.

The DOL is also proposing increasing the salary threshold for the “highly compensated employee” exemption. (Note: this exemption does NOT apply in Connecticut under state law basically rendering it moot.)

If this proposed regulation takes hold, some currently exempt employees could gain overtime protection.

In addition, the Department of Labor is exploring automatic updating mechanisms for earnings thresholds, which, at least according to the DOL, could provide a more efficient and predictable way to keep these thresholds aligned with evolving economic realities.

For Connecticut employers, this change may not have as much of an impact as in other states because Connecticut workers earn an average of $81,237 annually according to the CBIA.

Indeed, Connecticut’s minimum wage is now up to $15 per hour and is set to go up even further on January 1, 2024 as it will be indexed to the employment cost index.

For now, employers should be mindful of this proposal and use it as an opportunity to review and audit existing classifications of employees.