Q&A with Leonard Court
Attorney meets with U.S. labor secretary about overtime laws
Q: Recently, you were part of a delegation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that met with Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and his staff. What was the purpose of that meeting?
A: In March, President Obama directed the secretary of labor to modernize the Department of Labor regulations concerning the white-collar exemptions to the federal wage and hour laws. Employees who fit within these exemptions aren’t covered by the statute. So they aren’t entitled to overtime. Secretary Perez is seeking input from various interested groups on this issue.
Q: What were some of the issues that were discussed?
A: Primarily, the focus was on two issues. First, what should be the minimum salary required for an employee to be exempt? Second, what should be the test concerning what duties the employee must perform in order to qualify as an exempt employee?
Q: What was your role in the meeting?
A: As chairman of the chamber’s wage, hour and leave subcommittee, I expressed concern over some of the questionable enforcement tactics that wage and hour investigators are using around the country. This includes telling companies that they don’t need to involve their attorneys and, that if they do, then the matter could become much more expensive for the company. Another example is trying to exclude attorneys from interviews of certain company supervisory personnel.
Q: How might these meetings impact future regulations?
A: The chamber’s presentation gave the secretary input concerning the business community’s view and concerns about the direction any proposed changes might take. Hopefully, the wide-ranging discussion will influence the drafting of the proposed new regulations so that any changes will be workable.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER