Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Update: Federal court rules against Georgia but issues injunction barring implementation of Labor Department’s overtime rule

In September, I wrote that Georgia’s decision to join a 21-state lawsuit opposing the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule was based on its concern that making more state employees eligible for overtime would have a significant effect on Georgia’s budget.

On November 22, 2016, Federal Judge Amos Mazzant issued an injunction preventing the December 1, 2016, implementation of the rule.

Interestingly, Judge Mazzant ruled against the argument put forward by Georgia that “FLSA’s overtime requirements violate the Constitution by regulating the States and coercing them to adopt wage policy choices that adversely affect the States’ priorities, budgets, and services.”

Instead he found that the Fair Labor Standards Act did apply to states.

The judge issued the nationwide injunction after finding that the “Department exceeds its delegated authority and ignores Congress’s intent by raising the minimum salary level such that it supplants the duties test.”

Under FLSA, employees who may be exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA must meet both a “duties test” to determine whether they perform duties of an executive, administrative, or professional manner, and a salary test.

In his decision, Judge Mazzant writes: “it is clear Congress intended the EAP exemption to apply to employees doing actual executive, administrative, and professional duties. In other words, Congress defined the EAP exemption with regard to duties, which does not include a minimum salary level.”

It is now up to the Labor Department to decide whether they wish to appeal the District Court’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals located in New Orleans.

Complicating this matter is the upcoming change in administrations. Given the time constraints, any appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals, and perhaps later to the Supreme Court, would have to be handled by the incoming administration; and it is unclear whether the new administration would be willing to undertake such an appeal.

In the meantime, Georgia is no longer required to reclassify state employees who would have become nonexempt under the proposed rule, and they do not have to raise their budget to cover the additional costs that might have been incurred with the rule change.




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Georgia unemployment insurance appeals unit named best in nation among large states

The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has named the Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) Unemployment Insurance (UI) Appeals Tribunal the best performer among the nation’s 22 largest states for handling UI appeals.
“The Atlanta Regional Office of the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration congratulates the Georgia Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance staff on their recent award,” said USDOL Regional Administrator Les Range. “As the recipient among large states of the Department’s 2016 Excellence Award for UI Appeals Decisions, they have demonstrated excellence in performing timely and quality appeal decisions and hearings. We appreciate their hard work in serving Georgia’s citizens.”
The award is based on the state’s performance for the period from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016. The GDOL previously won the award for large states in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. 
“This recognition again confirms that our staff is doing a fine job administering our unemployment insurance program,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “It’s imperative that correct and fair decisions are reached when unemployment benefits are awarded or denied. This ensures that eligible claimants get the benefits they deserve, as quickly as possible, while preventing undeserved payments that can increase the tax rates of employers who support the system.”
The USDOL’s award is presented to the top performers from small, mid-sized and large states. A state’s size is based on the number of workers covered under the state’s unemployment insurance program. There are more than 4 million covered workers in Georgia. The 21 other states that comprise the large state category are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
For more information about Georgia Department of Labor services to employers and jobseekers, visit dol.georgia.gov.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Statement by President of the Georgia Federation of Teachers on defeat of Amendment 1

Statement by Verdaillia Turner, President of the Georgia Federation of Teachers
on the defeat of Governor Nathan Deal's Opportunity School District/Amendment 1

"Today, parents, teachers and the communities across the state resoundingly rejected the idea that policymakers alone should be the stewards of our children's future and public education-the public wants to maintain its voice.

"Instead, Georgians sent a clear message to Governor Deal and other stakeholders-we need to make changes to our public education system, but the current plan isn't working. We need to develop a new roadmap through an inclusive process where the focus is not on testing alone but on making the improvements essential to helping all students acquire the knowledge and skills they need for success in the 21st century economy.

"I would be remiss if I didn't thank Governor Deal for raising awareness around this issue and giving us the opportunity to collaborate on evidence based solutions for kids while ensuring educators have the tools, time and respect they deserve to deliver on the promise of public education. Georgians agree-we must push aside our politics, roll up our sleeves and get to work on behalf of our children."