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President Obama proposes changes in wage laws

Workers in Missouri and elsewhere in America should know that they have a powerful ally. Recently, President Obama sat down for an exclusive Huffington Post interview in which he said that his administration would be releasing the details of an upcoming reform to the overtime rules that govern the United States workforce.

The president said that many workers were cheated out of overtime pay by their employers.

"[W]e've seen . . . companies skirting basic overtime laws, calling somebody a manager when they're stocking groceries and getting paid $30,000 a year," he said.

The salary threshold is the prime focus of the intended reforms. Workers on salary earning less than $23,660 per year automatically are entitled to receive overtime pay of time-and-a-half. By raising this pay threshold, many additional workers can become eligible for the higher overtime wages.

The dilemma facing corporations will be to limit workers to 40 hours per week or compensate them for their additional hours worked.

During his second term in office, the president issued a directive to the Department of Labor to expand the rules of eligibility determination for overtime pay.

The president was unwilling to specify numbers during the interview, deferring the question until a formal announcement is made. Democratic senators mentioned a figure of $56,680 as the appropriate salary threshold in a letter to the Obama administration. This expansion would allow for nearly half of salaried employees to qualify for OT pay.

In 2013, only slightly more than 10 percent of American workers qualified for OT wages, in comparison with the 65 percent who qualified 40 years ago.

Companies manage to beat their workers out of higher wages by classifying them as managers in name only even while they spend the bulk of their workdays toiling at manual and menial tasks. Corporations are certain to balk at the proposed reforms.

Those workers who suspect that their wages are kept low by false classification of their job descriptions may have a cause of action to file a wage dispute.

Source: Huffington Post, "Obama Says Workers Are Being 'Cheated' Out Of Overtime Pay" Dave Jamiesom, Mar. 21, 2015

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