Casey co-sponsors overtime protection bill

Nine senators, including Bob Casey (D-Pa.), introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at restoring the 40-hour work week for low- and mid-wage salaried employees.

The Restoring Overtime Pay for Working Americans Act, introduced along with Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), includes several key provisions that would restore overtime protections for salaried workers.

The introduction of the legislation comes after President Obama called on the secretary of labor in March to address overtime pay protections. According to the White House, only 12 percent of salaried workers are guaranteed overtime and minimum wage protections, compared to 18 percent in 2004 and 65 percent in 1975.

"This legislation will increase take-home pay for thousands of Pennsylvanians and ensure that more workers are given a fair shot to receive the overtime pay they've earned," Casey said. "This is a commonsense proposal that will update overtime protections for workers to match the realities of the workplace."

Among the bill's key provisions is an increase in the overtime salary threshold for executive, administrative and professional workers from $455 per week to $1,090 per week, adjusted for inflation. The new threshold would be gradually phased in and indexed to inflation.

The bill would also raise the threshold for "highly compensated employees" from $100,000 to $125,000 and re-establish the 50 percent threshold for the definition of "primary duty," which is used in law to determine if a worker's duties are eligible for an overtime exemption.

Additionally, the legislation introduces penalties for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's record-keeping provisions. Employers would be penalized up to $1,100 if the violation was willful or repeated.

Harkin, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said outdated overtime laws hurt American families and the economy.

"Plain and simple, if you have to work more, you should be paid more," Harkin said. "Our legislation takes a commonsense approach to restoring overtime protections by making clear who should be eligible for overtime, while strengthening compliance provisions. Americans who work hard and play by the rules should be fairly compensated for a hard day's work."