This article was originally published in the The Daily Record on August 4, 2015.
In June, I wrote an article in anticipation of the federal Department of Labor releasing its proposed changes to Part 541 of the Fair Labor Standards Act regulations; the so-called “white-collar” exemptions. When I wrote, “Updating the White-Collar Exemptions: A Call for Bold Action, But At What Cost?” my expectation, as well as those of the subject matter experts I spoke with, were that the proposed salary threshold would be in the neighborhood of $42,000 annually. We didn’t just pull that number out of the air. It was based on what we believed was sound logic. Using a Bureau of Labor Statistics calculator, the average annual inflation-adjusted salary level from the inception of the exemptions in 1938, through 2015, is approximately $42,000. A figure we all agreed was high considering other business and economic factors, but still the most likely scenario. Imagine our collective surprise when DOL Secretary Thomas Perez announced the proposed salary threshold at $50,440!