The Merry-Go-Round Continues

By Bill Wright

The Supreme Court says federal agencies may reverse their legal interpretations, without giving notice to the public of a proposed change and considering comments on the proposal. Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, No. 13-1041 (U.S. March 9, 2015) The Department of Labor, over time, has contradicted itself about mortgage-loan officers. For years, the DOL considered them non-exempt from overtime; then it considered them exempt; and then, again, it considered them non-exempt. A dizzy industry group sued, trying to make the DOL go through notice-and-comment rulemaking before changing interpretations, but the Court rejected the attempt. An agency cannot contradict a rule or the law with a mere interpretation, but, within the limits of the actual rules, there’s room for contradictory interpretations.

Bottom line, expect any current administration’s agencies to issue interpretations to pursue the administration’s agenda, and expect the next administration’s agencies to reverse those interpretations, and so on. Business owners will continue to spin ’round and ’round.