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Earlier this year, I reported that a federal judge in Texas had issued a preliminary nationwide injunction against the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) new Persuader Rule.  The DOL’s new rule was problematic because it would have essentially eliminated what is known as the “advice” exemption under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”), which allows attorneys and consultants to assist employers with union matters where there is no direct contact between the attorney/consultant and the company’s employees, without having to report the nature of the consultation.  Under the DOL’s new Persuader Rule, disclosure of such arrangements would have been required.

On November 16, 2016, the same judge converted the preliminary injunction into a permanent nationwide injunction.

At this point, we’ll just have to wait and see how the DOL responds (i.e. appeals).  With the Trump administration taking office in less than two months, it will be interesting to see whether the DOL scales back on some of the initiatives it pushed for during the Obama administration.


The Hawaii State House of Representatives recently finalized their committee assignments for the 2017 legislative session.  Here are some of the committee assignments that may be of interest to employers:

Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)
Chair:  Angus McKelvey
Vice Chair:  Linda Ichiyama

Economic Development & Business (EDB)
Chair:  Mark Nakashima (former Labor Chair)
Vice Chair:  Jarrett Keohokalole

Finance (FIN)
Chair:  Sylvia Luke
Vice Chair:  Ty Cullen

Health (HLT)
Chair:  Della Au Belatti
Vice Chair:  Bert Kobayashi

Judiciary (JUD)
Chair:  Scott Nishimoto
Vice Chair:  Joy San Buenaventura

Labor & Public Employment
Chair:  Aaron Johanson
Vice Chair:  Daniel Holt


It looks like Christmas has come early for employers all around the country.  On November 22, 2016, a federal judge from Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting the U.S. Department of Labor from enforcing its new rules regarding the executive, administrative, and professional (“EAP”) exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act.



For all those employers who were going to be converted to non-exempt status solely because of the increased salary threshold, those employees can remain exempt.  For those employees who were set to receive a pay increase due to the new FLSA rules, employers will need to make the tough decision on whether they will still increase employees’ salaries.  Some factors to consider are whether the pay increases have already been implemented or announced, the potential impact on morale, and the company’s budget.

To view a copy of the court’s decision, please click on the following link:  FLSA Rules Preliminary Injunction.


The Hawaii Employers Council recently published a brief article discussing the impact that a Trump Presidency could have on the future of labor and employment laws in the United States.  Since Donald Trump has been elected president, there has been no shortage of political pundits and legal experts surmising about what types of labor and employment initiatives we can expect to see in the upcoming years.  Some speculation has been based on statements Trump has made in the past, while others may be linked to his 100-Day Plan to Make America Great Again.  So, with the Trump Presidency just a couple of months away, what does the future hold anyway?


This article explains that although there are many unknowns about what a Trump Presidency will mean for employers, there are few things that we do know for sure.  You can read the article online here:  President Donald Trump and the Future of Labor & Employment Laws.


The election cycle is finally over and the nation’s politicians are starting to prepare for the next round of lawmaking.  At the local level, the Hawaii State Senate and House of Representatives recently announced their leadership structure for the upcoming legislative session.


The Senate reaffirmed Ron Kouchi as Senate President and the House retained Joe Souki as Speaker.  Other leadership posts in both chambers will remain mostly the same:

For the Senate:

President:  Ron Kouchi
Vice President:  Michelle Kidani (former Education Chair)
Majority Floor Leader:  Will Espero (former Vice President)
Majority Leader:  Kalani English
Majority Caucus Leader:  Brickwood Galuteria
Majority Whip:  Donovan Dela Cruz

Ways and Means Chair:  Jill Tokuda
Commerce and Consumer Protection:  Roz Baker
Judiciary and Labor:  Gil Keith-Agaran
Human Services Commitee:  Josh Green (former Majority Floor Leader/Whip)

(Other Senate committee chairs have not yet been finalized.)

For the House of Representatives:

Speaker:  Joe Souki
Vice Speaker:  John Mizuno
Majority Leader:  Scott Saiki
Majority Floor Leader:  Cindy Evans
Majority Whip:  Ken Ito
Assistant Majority Leaders:  Roy Takumi, Chris Lee and Dee Morikawa
Majority Policy Leader (new position):  Marcus Oshiro
Speaker Emeritus:  Calvin Say

(No House committee chairs have been announced.)


UPDATE:  OMG!  Contrary to very-widely-held speculation, a federal district court actually did issue a preliminary injunction against the new FLSA rules!  And, the injunction applies nationwide!  Click here for further details:  Nationwide Injunction Imposed Against New FLSA Rules


This has been a busy couple of weeks for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) new FLSA rules.  First, two lawsuits have been filed in a Texas federal court to seek an order preventing the DOL from enforcing its new overtimes rules.  In addition, a House bill - HR 6094 – is making its way through Congress to postpone implementation of the new FLSA rules for six months.  The new rules are currently set to take effect on December 1, 2016, which is just about two months away.


The first lawsuit was filed by 21 states and argues that the DOL overstepped its authority by raising the salary level for the FLSA’s Executive, Administrative and Professional exemptions (“EAP exemptions”).  The lawsuit argues that, instead of raising the salary level, the DOL should have reexamined the duties of the EAP exemptions.  In addition, the 21 states also challenged the automatic increases that are set to increase every three years “without regard for current economic conditions or the effect on public and private resources.”  Finally, the lawsuit posits that new DOL’s rules violate the Tenth Amendment because employment budgetary matters such as the pay requirements of state employees are subject to state sovereignty.

The second lawsuit was filed by a coalition of business groups, including the National Federal of Independent Businesses (“NFIB”) and several Chambers of Commerce.  This lawsuit argues that setting new salary threshold at an exceedingly high level and scheduling automatic increases both violate the Administrative Procedure Act.

(Both lawsuits have been assigned to Judge Amos Mazzant, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.  So, that’s not exactly great news…)

Finally, there are several bills pending in Congress that seek either (1) a delay of the new rules or (2) a phase-in of the increased salary threshold over several years.  Specifically, HR 6094 and S. 3462 both seek a six-month delay of the effective date of the new rules and HR 5813 and S. 3464 seek to phase-in the increases over several years.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives just voted 241-177 in favor of passing HR 6094.  The bill will now go to the U.S. Senate for consideration.  However, President Obama has previously threatened to veto the measure if it is passed and the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement that “strongly opposes” the bill.

Therefore, despite all these legal challenges to the new FLSA rules, employers should plan to implement whatever changes they deem necessary by the December 1, 2016 effective date.


In the Kokua Line for the Star-Advertiser, Christine Donnelly answers the question of whether an employer can fire an employee who refuses to wear a Halloween costume to work because it is against her religion.  In a nutshell, the answer is no.  And, even if you could, why would you (unless you like having angry employees)?


You can read the full article here:  Labor Law Protects Refusal to Don Costume Due to Faith