Judge derails changes to overtime rule
Retailer and pro dealer associations welcomed a judge’s ruling that will prevent the Labor Department’s changes to federal overtime rules from taking effect as scheduled on Dec 1.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the National Retail Federation, attorneys general from 21 states and dozens of business groups arguing that the changes are unlawful. The ruling effectively pauses implementation of the rules until the courts reach a final decision on its legality.
“The Labor Department’s overtime changes are a reckless and aggressive overreach of executive power, and retailers are pleased with the judge’s decision,” NRF senior VP for government relations David French said. “The rules are just plain bad public policy, and we are pleased that the judge is allowing time for the case to go forward before they can go into effect. We hope the judge ultimately finds in our favor; and in the meantime this timeout gives Congress a chance to take another look at the impact of these rules.”
That sentiment echoed at the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.
“NLBMDA welcomes the preliminary injunction to DOL's overtime rule,” said Jonathan Paine, NLBMDA president and CEO. "The rule in its current form would have had many unintended consequences reducing flexibility and advancement opportunities for employees."
As part of the final rule, the salary level under which employees qualify for overtime pay would have increased from $455 per week ($23,360 annually) to an estimated $913 per week ($47,476 annually). In addition, the rule would have provided for automatic updates to the threshold every three years without seeking public comment.
A recent poll by HBSDealer suggests that dealers were prepared for the switch. At its latest tally, 58% of respondents said they were prepared after studying payroll, work flow and making adjustments. The judge’s action will surely come as a relief to the 13% of respondents who said they were not prepared. Another 13% said they were still working on a plan. (The sample size of the survey was 85.)
The topic was a major talking point at the recent ProDealer Industry Summit in Charleston, S.C.
Research conducted for the NRF by Oxford Economics found that the new overtime regulations would force employers to limit hours or cut base pay in order to make up for added payroll costs, leaving most workers with no increase in take-home pay despite added administrative costs. A separate survey found that the majority of retail managers and assistant managers the regulations are supposed to help oppose the plan, citing losses in schedule flexibility, benefits and professional development opportunities that would come with switching from salaried to hourly positions.
The lawsuit brought by the NRF and more than 50 business organizations argues that both the $47,476 annual minimum salary for workers to be exempt from overtime set by the new overtime rules — more than double the current level — and the automatic increase in that amount every three years exceed the Labor Department’s statutory authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act and are in violation of the intent of Congress.
Mazzant, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, made the ruling. The temporary injunction means that the rule will not go into effect until the case is resolved or the injunction is lifted by the judge. The DOL will likely appeal the injunction. Currently there is no timeline for the case to move forward, the NLBMDA said.
"Due to the approaching effective date of the final rule, the court's ability to render a meaningful decision on the merits is in jeopardy," Mazzant wrote. "A preliminary injunction preserves the status quo while the court determines the department's authority to make the final rule as well as the final rule's validity."
A Visual Match from Houzz
For years, web sites and apps have been disrupting the way homeowners shop for products and materials. Houzz.com has a new twist on the theme: an app that makes it easier to discover and buy the types of products and materials that inspire homeowners in photos.
The tool, called “Visual Match,” scans photos to identify similar products — from tables and sofas to mirrors and plumbing fixtures — and shows you examples of those products that are available in the Houzz Shop.
The tool works on a desktop computer, or mobile device as follows:
• On Desktop
To get started on Houzz.com, click on an image, such as a bedroom. Then hover over the image with your mouse and watch for a white box with a magnifying glass to appear on products. Next, click the magnifying glass in the photo. This shows you visually similar products from the Houzz Shop, which you’ll see at the bottom of your screen.
• On Mobile
To get started on mobile, open the Houzz app and tap on an image. Then tap on the magnifying glass within the white box. From there you can swipe through the visually similar products and tap on them to learn more.
From the Houzz app, you can also use View in My Room to see how the product would look in your space before you buy.
The process allows users to add products to their Houzz shopping cart, save it to an ideabook, share it with your family, designer, other home professional.