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St. Louis Missouri Labor & Employment Law Firm | Employment Law Blog | Oral Complaints and the FLSA
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Oral Complaints and the FLSA
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SUPREME COURT HOLDS EMPLOYEES MAY NOT BE DISCHARGED OVER ORAL COMPLAINTS REGARDING FLSA VIOLATIONS

In Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., the United States Supreme Court held that even oral complaints to an employer are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). The FLSA provides minimum wage, maximum hour, and overtime pay rules; and forbids employers "to discharge . . . any employee because such employee has filed any complaint" alleging a violation of the FLSA. 29 U.S.C. §215(a)(3). (emphasis added).

The employee in this case, Kasten, was discharged following an oral complaint he made to a supervisor regarding the location of timeclocks. After he was discharged Kasten brought this antiretaliation lawsuit alleging that his remark to his shift supervisor that "it was illegal for the time clocks to be where they were" was a protected act under the FLSA. While the Defendant, Saint-Gobain, disputed the allegation that Kasten made any significant complaint, the Court accepted Kasten's version of the facts for the purposes of their analysis in this case.

Ultimately the Supreme Court held that the scope of FLSA protections for employees who "filed any complaint" included not only formal, written complaints but also less formal, oral complaints. Thus, employees like Kasten who make oral complaints regarding violations of the FLSA and other statutes are protected against retaliation for their actions. This decision solidifies broad protections of the FLSA regarding oral complaints which were previously unclear to lower courts.

In sum, Kasten v. Saint-Gobain is a positive decision for employees in Missouri and across the United States who see violations of minimum wage, maximum hour, and overtime pay rules of the FLSA.

Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., 563 U.S. XXX (2011) (decided 3/22/11)

 

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