The Department of Labor (DOL) is the subject of a Supreme Court review today in the case of Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association (Thomas Perez is DOL Secretary), with arguments focusing on whether a federal agency can issue “interpretations” of existing laws and regulations without conducting a public commentary period.

The Mortgage Bankers Association brought suit when the DOL reinterpreted a Bush-era ruling that mortgage loan officers are exempt from overtime, saying that they are indeed hourly workers subject to overtime pay rules. The lawsuit maintains that, under federal law, the agency should’ve opened a public commentary period before issuing the interpretation. The DOL maintains that the public input requirement applies only to new regulations.

The DOL won the initial lawsuit, but the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, landing the whole issue before the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court sides with the bankers association, it could make it more difficult for federal agencies to “interpret” existing rules and regulations.

To better understand overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ FLSA Compliance Program.