Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Impact of New White Collar Regulations? That Debate Continues

Over at Workplace Fairness you can check out an extended discussion of the the fight over the new white collar exemptions under the FLSA. Among the comments mentioned is my earlier post that the fuss was really much ado about nothing. Actually, my comment, with a twist, became the headline: Much Ado About Nothing? Just Look at Your Next Paycheck.

The author thought my view was based on the lack of post-election controversy by those opposed, a jump of "faulty logic." Actually that was not the basis for my comment. Instead it was based on my conversation with numerous employers asking how many had reclassified workers since the new regulations. The answer -- quite a few. But the most important question was whether they were taking employees who had been considered non-exempt under the old regulations and making them exempt (thus depriving them of overtime, which is was the argument made by those opposing the regulations) or vice versa. The overwhelming response of those that had changed the status of employees was to move them from exempt to non-exempt. The opposite of what the opponents of the regulations argued would happen.

To really know how workers were impacted by the change we will have to wait for some objective studies to determine how many employees gained and how many lost the opportunity for overtime. My guess based on my conversations is that substantially more will have gained overtime opportunities than lost them, but I am happy to wait for the non-anecdotal evidence.

At the end of its article, Workplace Fairness is eliciting its own poll, unfortunately it doesn't ask the question whether employees lost (or gained) the right to overtime. Instead it asks about what it calls "The Income Gap." But with no question even related to the impact of the change in the white collar regulations, it is hard to see what it will do to provide data of any type for this debate. Maybe I missed the logic.


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