A top Democrat called on President Trump on Friday to restore an Obama-era rule extending federal overtime protections for workers.
The rule was declared unconstitutional Thursday by a Texas judge, and the Trump White House strongly indicated that it plans to rescind the rule even before that ruling.
Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, nevertheless called on the administration to preserve the rule, and said the previous administration's change was badly needed for workers.
"The overtime rule issued by the Obama administration took a critical step toward giving millions of Americans a long overdue raise by updating the country's outdated overtime rule," Scott said. "The Trump administration has the ability to appeal this decision and I urge them to make the choice to put the economic security of working people and families first."
Federal law says employees must be paid time-and-a-half once they work more than 40 hours in a week. However, businesses may exempt workers from the requirement if their duties are "managerial" in nature and they reach a certain salary threshold.
Last year, the Labor Department announced that that threshold, previously $23,000 annually, would rise to more than $47,000, and would be updated every three years to reflect wage growth. The administration's rule change would have meant that 4 million more workers would be eligible for overtime.
A Texas court formally nullified that Thursday, saying the Department of Labor lacked the authority to set a salary threshold so high that it would "effectively eliminate" other requirements for when a person is eligible for overtime, such as what duties they perform.
"The department has exceeded its authority and gone too far with the final rule," said District Court Judge Amos Mazzant in Plano, Texas. "The department creates a final rule that makes overtime status depend predominately on a minimum salary level, thereby supplanting an analysis of an employee's job duties. Because the final rule would exclude so many employees who perform exempt duties, the department fails to carry out Congress's unambiguous intent."
The same court had prevented the rule from going into effect last year.
President Trump's administration reopened the rule to public comment last month, a prerequisite before the department can officially rescind it. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has said he did not believe the department had the authority to set the threshold as high as it did.