Experts Weigh in After Judge Overturns Mandate Requiring Churches to Increase Overtime Pay for Full-time Workers

Just before Labor Day, a federal judge in Texas struck down a US Department of Labor (DOL) mandate that full-time, salaried workers—including church and parachurch staff—who earn up to $47,476 must be paid time-and-a-half for any overtime they work. This week, the Justice Department announced that it would not pursue the matter.

Texas judge Amos Mazzant said he wasn’t opposed to the “general lawfulness of the salary-level test or the Department’s authority to implement such a test,” but that the DOL focused too much on the amount of money paid and not enough on the job duties. So far, 21 states and 50 companies had filed lawsuits against the Labor Department, charging that it had exceeded its authority.

The previous limit, set by President George W. Bush, was $23,660. Labor secretary Alexander Acosta said at his confirmation hearing in March that an adjustment for inflation would leave the number “somewhere around $33,000.”

“I’m very sensitive to the face that it hasn’t been updated since 2004,” he told US senators at his confirmation hearing, promising to “look at this very closely.”

“Churches and ministries throughout the United States are relieved that the Trump administration is taking a measured approach to potential changes in the overtime threshold,” Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability president Dan Busby told CT. “The [DOL] recently submitted a formal request for information to employers. This input will be considered before the DOL presumably increases the overtime to a threshold much lower than what was proposed by the former administration.”

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