July 02, 2019

The appeals panel said US District Judge Amos Mazzant had no authority to hold the firms Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; Outten & Golden; and New Jersey's Green Savits in contempt in a labor case.

A federal appeals panel on Tuesday voided a Texas trial judge’s order that said three plaintiffs firms were in contempt for allegedly violating the nationwide injunction blocking enforcement of an Obama-era U.S. Labor Department rule.

U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas said the firms—Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, Outten & Golden, and New Jersey’s Green Savits—violated the injunction when they brought a wage-and-hour suit in New Jersey federal court. Mazzant’s injunction, issued against the Labor Department, had earlier paused a rule that would have made millions of more workers eligible for overtime compensation.

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The Fifth Circuit panel on Tuesday unanimously concluded Mazzant did not have authority to hold the firms, and their client, in contempt.

In the New Jersey court, the firms had sued Chipotle Mexican Grill in a private civil action. The suit, filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey state law alleged Mazzant’s injunction had not stopped the effective date of the Labor Department overtime rule. The plaintiffs also argued they were not parties to the injunction.

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