Fair Labor Standards Act Retaliation

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A lab technician for Bostwick Labs was among a group of employees who met with the Chief Operating Officer to complain about a supervisor removing overtime from their timesheets.  Less than a week later the lab technician was fired.  She then filed a retaliation claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The trial court dismissed her lawsuit on the basis that her verbal complaint was not sufficient to give her standing to bring a retaliation claim under the FLSA.  The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision.  The Court cited the EEOC’s position that an oral complaint is sufficient and a number of court decisions.

This decision illustrates the importance of keeping track of FLSA complaints by employees whether they are written or verbal.  Firing an employee shortly after the employee makes a FLSA complaint puts the employer at high risk for a retaliation claim.  Fear of a retaliation claim should not translate to job security for a marginal employee, but prudence might dictate letting some time pass after the complaint before firing the employee.  Minor v. Bostwick Labs., Inc., 669 F.3d 428 (4th Cir. Va. 2012)

Contact Mike H. Loftin at (806) 376-5613 for additional information or assistance.

This column is published for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.

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