Employers: No Retaliation to Oral Complaints

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C.A. s 201, et.
seq.) (the “Act”) forbids employers from discharging or otherwise
discriminating against employees for, among other things, filing a
complaint against the employer under or related to the Act. 29 U.S.C.A. s
215(a)(3).  Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section
215(a)(3) applies not only to written complaints filed by employees,
but to oral complaints as well.  Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp.,
131 S. Ct. 1325 (2011).  Specifically, the Court held that a complaint
is “filed” when a reasonable, objective person would have understood the
employee to have put the employer on notice that the employee is
asserting statutory rights under the Act.  This decision significantly
expands employees’ ability to file retaliation suits against their
employers.  Employers must take internal complaints (both oral and
written) seriously and be prepared to defend decisions to discharge or
discipline their employees.

“This advisory is published by Bryant, Lovlien & Jarvis, PC
to provide a summary of significant developments to our clients and the
community. It is intended to be informational and does not constitute
legal advice regarding any specific situation. This material may also be
considered attorney advertising under court rules of certain
jurisdictions.”

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