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President's plan to lift salary threshold will impact Missourians

Salaried workers in the United States will benefit from President Obama's proposed updated regulations that will end the ban on salaried workers earning overtime pay. The president plans to use his executive authority to bypass an intransigent Congress to raise the salary threshold for low-level supervisors and managers, clearing the way for them to claim overtime wages.

Under current wage laws, a salaried employee who earns $455 per week yet toils for 63 or more hours at their job is actually earning less than the federal minimum wage provides.

Betsey Stevenson, a member of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said "The president believes that if you're making $25,000 a year and you're working 60 hours a week, you should be getting paid for the extra hours you work."

Obama plans to direct Department of Labor officials to scrutinize overtime regulations and the salary threshold above which businesses do not have to pay their workers overtime in cases of salaried employees in managerial and supervisory positions. The threshold hasn't been lifted since 2004, when it was increased to $455 a week.

Predictably, there has been a pushback from business owners. The National Retail Federation's spokesman, David French, issued the following statement: "If implemented, this would have a significant job-killing effect."

Business groups countered Obama's proposal by saying employers can simply cut hours or eliminate entire positions to avoid paying OT to managerial staff.

Regardless of differing opinions on the viability of such proposals, there has definitely been a sea change in this administration regarding wage laws. If you are working for an employer that is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act or paying its employees less than the amount required by law, you may be entitled to back pay and/or compensatory damages. Consult with a Kansas City employment law attorney to discuss your options.

Source: Reuters, "Obama to seek broad update to U.S. rules for overtime pay" Roberta Rampton and Amanda Becker, Mar. 13, 2014

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