NFIB to SCOTUS: Don’t Let Government Agencies Have Final Word on Statutory Interpretations

Date: March 07, 2016

Jack Mozloom, 202-406-4450 or 609-462-5610 (cell)

business group says that when courts defer to agencies on what federal statutes
mean the outcome will often result in more regulation

DC (March 7, 2016)
– If the courts must defer to regulatory
agencies on the legal interpretation of federal statutes then small businesses
will lose an important protection against regulatory overreach, said the National Federation of Independent Business
today in a Supreme Court brief.

“One of the reasons that the federal
bureaucracy has accumulated so much power in recent years is that the courts
have been reluctant to challenge their interpretations,” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of the
NFIB Small Business Legal Center

“That’s a green light for more aggressive regulation.”

NFIB this afternoon filed a brief in the case
of Encino Motor Cars, LLC v. Navarro,
Case No. 15-415
.  At issue is whether
a category of employees previously exempt from federal overtime law is suddenly
entitled to extra pay merely because that’s what the Department of Labor wants.

Navarro is a service advisor whose job is to
help customers arrange maintenance and repairs through the dealership.  Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers whose
job can be described as a “salesman,
partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in the selling or servicing of cars”

are exempt. 

“The District Court reasonably concluded that
service advisors are engaged in the service of cars, and are therefore
exempt.  The Ninth Circuit sided with the
Department of Labor, however, which wants to expand overtime by interpreting the
law so narrowly that almost no one is exempt,” said Harned. 

“That can’t be the legal standard,” she
continued.  “Agencies will always
interpret laws to advance their own agenda and if the courts are going to defer
to them in every case then the regulated community will have very little
recourse to challenge those decisions.”  

NFIB is asking the Supreme Court to break the
tie between the lower courts.  Not only
did the Ninth Circuit rule against the car dealership in this case, but it
argued that when there are competing interpretations the Administration’s view
should prevail.

“That would be exceedingly dangerous for small
business,” said Harned.  “The regulatory
state is already more powerful than it has ever been exactly because the courts
tend to give it the benefit of the doubt. 
We’re urging the Supreme Court to reassert the power of the other two

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in
the case on April 30, 2016.

For more information about NFIB please visit


Subscribe For Free News And Tips

Enter your email to get FREE small business insights. Learn more

Get to know NFIB

NFIB is a member-driven organization advocating on behalf of small and independent businesses nationwide.

Learn More

Or call us today

© 2001 - 2022 National Federation of Independent Business. All Rights Reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy