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DOL Seeks to Increase the Minimum Salary for Exempt Workers

April 9, 2019

By Haley Morrison

In March, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks – again – to raise the minimum salary threshold for employees classified as exempt pursuant to one of the so-called "white collar" exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees.

This is not the DOL's first effort in that regard. As explained in previous Tonkon Tips, in 2017 (which can be found here, here, and here), the DOL sought to raise the minimum salary necessary to classify certain employees as exempt from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually). That "Final Rule" was eventually invalidated by a federal judge in Texas, and never went into effect.

Now, the DOL is soliciting feedback on its new proposal, which would raise the salary threshold from $455 per week to $679 per week ($35,308 annually), starting January 1, 2020.

In developing its proposal, the DOL engaged in "listening sessions" around the country, and reviewed more than 200,000 comments as part of its original 2017 effort. The DOL reports that there is "overwhelming" support for an update to the threshold last updated in 2004.

We will provide additional information related to the DOL's proposal, and its implementation, as things develop. In the meantime, we recommend employers take a closer look at employees who are currently classified as exempt under one of the white collar exemptions and review whether any increase in compensation would be necessary if this change goes into effect.


Haley Morrison is a partner with Tonkon Torp LLP and works in the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group. She provides counsel to employers on a wide variety of matters including discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and wage-and-hour cases, in both single plaintiff and class action litigation. She can be reached at haley.morrison@tonkon.com.

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