AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has signed on to a legal complaint by 21 states against new overtime rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
According to the LePage administration, the new rules would mean that all salaried employees who earn less than $47,500 a year would be eligible for overtime pay. That means the salaried employees would be paid time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week.
The rule is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1 of this year. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas seeks to block implementation of the rule.
The rule would double the minimum salary threshold — which is the number under which an employee who works more than 40 hours is entitled to overtime pay — from $455 to $913 a week, the latter of which equates to $47,476 a year. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the change would apply to 4.2 million workers in the United States, including about 16,000 in Maine. The new rule would allow the salary threshold to increase every three years in step with average increases in wage growth.
LePage said the change, which Obama ordered in 2014 among other adjustments to the Fair Labor Standards Act would lead to job cuts and in the public sector, cuts to services.
“The rule will force many state and local governments to substantially increase their employment costs,” said LePage. “Some may be forced to eliminate some services and even lay off employees.”
Opponents of the new rule have accused the Obama administration of implementing it without congressional approval.
Sixteen states are listed as plaintiffs, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. LePage made Maine one of six states — including Iowa, Kentucky, New Mexico, Mississippi and Michigan — in which the governor or attorney general’s name is listed among the plaintiffs. That means LePage has signed on to the complaint in his individual capacity, which is known in legal terms as “pro se,” as opposed to Maine signing on as a state.