LITTLE ROCK — Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday joined a coalition of 21 states in filing a lawsuit challenging a new U.S. Department of Labor rule on overtime pay.


The rule, slated to go into effect in Dec. 1, will raise the salary threshold for white-collar, salaried employees to be considered exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime pay protections.


The threshold will increase from $23,660 per year, or $455 per week, to $47,476 per year, or $913 per week, meaning that employees who earn less than $913 per week will be eligible for overtime pay. The thresholds will update automatically every three years.


“Concern over this new regulation from Washington has been a consistent topic at regulatory roundtables that I have been holding across the state,” Rutledge said in a statement Tuesday.


“Business owners, sheriffs, mayors and county judges are all concerned about how they are going to implement this rule without being forced to fire hardworking employees. Washington is once again trying to force a political agenda on the states by unlawfully ignoring the role of Congress, and I hope that the court will act and prevent this rule from taking effect,” she said.


The suit alleges that the Labor Department lacks authority to implement the rule without congressional authorization and seeks an order barring the rule from being implemented, applied or enforced.


The Labor Department’s website states, “The current salary level is outdated and no longer does its job of helping to separate salaried white collar employees who should get overtime pay for working extra hours from those who should be exempt. Through this final rule, the department is updating these regulations to ensure that the FLSA’s intended overtime protections are fully implemented, and to simplify the identification of overtime-eligible workers, thus making the exemption easier for employers and workers to understand and apply.”


In addition to Arkansas, the states suing the Labor Department over the rule are Nevada, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.