Three former Department of Labor officials have issued a report criticizing
the Bush administration's changes to the white-collar exemptions of the Fair
Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The AFL-CIO, which opposes the changes, requested the report.
The report concludes that the department has in
effect weakened the criteria for exemption, meaning fewer workers
will qualify for overtime.
"The department has moved the line of demarcation between those employees
protected by the FLSA and those who are exempt substantially in the direction
of exemption, so that more classes of workers, and a greater proportion of the
workforce overall, will be exempt than we believe the Congress could have originally
intended," according to the report.
The Labor Department disputes the authors' findings.
"These latest studies are a rehash of misinformation that the AFL-CIO
put out about the department's final overtime security rule in April, assertions
that were completely discredited in congressional hearings," Labor Department
spokesperson Ed Frank tells the Associated Press.
In the report, the authors commend the department for taking on the project
of overhauling the overtime rules and noted the increase to the salary threshold
below which worker are generally guaranteed overtime, but dispute the department's
contention that the new rules will offer greater overtime protection to more
The former Labor Department officials say that changes to the duties tests
for exemption will weaken workers' overtime protections.
"The murkier and less stringent rule can only have the countervailing
effect of encouraging employers to push the boundaries of the new standards,"
according to the report. "That is because it is--and always will be--in
their fundamental economic interests to do so in order to reduce labor costs
by avoiding overtime pay. The department's new rules give them great license
and latitude to do so?"
The authors of the report are John Fraser, who served as deputy assistant secretary
for employment standards; Monica Gallagher, who served as associate solicitor
for fair labor standards; and Gail Coleman, who served as counsel for trial
litigation for fair labor standards, and as deputy associate solicitor for fair