Washington Watch: DOL to hold regional listening sessions on FLSA regulations

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will host a series of public listening sessions for employers throughout May and early June to seek feedback on potential changes to the salary level threshold for “white-collar” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The regulatory change could have a significant impact on community colleges.

DOL’s Wage and Hour Division plans to develop and release a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) outlining changes to the exemption of executive, administrative and professional employees from FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements. One of the rulemaking’s primary goals is to increase the salary level requirement for the white-collar exemptions, according to the DOL, adding in its statement of regulatory priorities that it will “ensure that middle class jobs pay middle class wages [by] extending important overtime pay protections to millions of workers and raising their pay.”

The current minimum salary threshold sits at $35,568 annually, which was put into place at the start of 2020 following a lengthy process that began during the Obama administration.

The department is interested in hearing from employers to gather diverse feedback on possible revisions to the regulations. Specifically, DOL seeks input on:

  • The appropriate salary level above which the exemptions for bona fide executive, administrative or professional employees may apply.
  • The costs and benefits of increasing the salary level to employers and employees, including increasing wages and reducing litigation costs.
  • The best methodology for updating the salary level and the appropriate frequency of updates.
  • Whether other changes to the overtime regulations are warranted. 

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has historically been active on this issue, most recently in 2015. At that time, the Obama administration proposed upping the threshold from $23,660 a year to $50,440 a year, an increase of 113%, with additional increases in subsequent years based on inflation. In February, AACC signed a joint higher education letter sent to DOL requesting that the department meet with stakeholders prior to releasing the NPRM. AACC Senior Vice President David Baime represented AACC before DOL last month, presenting data from some community colleges, urging DOL to be sensitive to the often challenging finances that face two-year colleges. 

Below are the regional breakdowns of the virtual sessions, along with the dates, times and registration links.

Northeast Employer Regional Overtime Listening Session  
May 13, 3:30-4:30 pm ET 
Northeast Region: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia 

Southeast Employer Regional Overtime Listening Session  
May 17, 2-3 pm ET 
Southeast Region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee 

Midwest Employer Regional Overtime Listening Session  
May 20, 2:30–3:30 pm CT 
Midwest Region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin

Southwest Employer Regional Overtime Listening Session  
May 27, 2–3 pm CT 
Southwest Region: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming

West Employer Regional Overtime Listening Session  
June 3, 12:30–1:30 pm PT 
West Region: Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington 

AACC members are urged to participate in these hearings. Please contact AACC’s government relations staff if you would like further information about how best to represent your college, and community colleges in general, in this process. 

About the Author

Alexis Gravely
Alexis Gravely is a legislative analyst at the American Association of Community Colleges.