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U.S. Supreme Court Hold That FLSA Anti-Retaliation Provision Protects Employees Who Make Oral Complaints

Published by on March 24, 2011

In Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., the United States Supreme Court held, in a 6-2 decision, that the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) protects employees who make oral, as well as written, complaints regarding FLSA violations.  For a humorous take on the subject, click here.  More after the break. 29 […]

In Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., the United States Supreme Court held, in a 6-2 decision, that the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) protects employees who make oral, as well as written, complaints regarding FLSA violations.  For a humorous take on the subject, click here.  More after the break.

29 U.S.C. §215(a)(3), the FLSA’s anti-retaliation statute, prohibits employers from discharging “any employee because such employee has filed any complaint” alleging violation of the FLSA.  In reversing the decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals which concluded that the anti-retaliation provision did protect employees who made only oral complaints, the Supreme Court held that the scope of statutory term “filed any complaint” includes oral and written complaints.  The Supreme Court reasoned that even if the term “filed” was interpreted to indicate that only written complaints should be included within the statute’s purview, the provision’s use of the terms “any complaint” suggested a broad interpretation that includes oral complaints.  Additionally, the Supreme Court concluded that a narrow interpretation of the provision would undermine the FLSA’s basic objectives and enforcement needs.   Moreover, the Supreme Court noted that the Secretary of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have consistently held the view that “filed any complaint” covers both oral and written complaints.

To read the United State Supreme Court’s entire opinion, click here.

Additional blog posts and articles regarding the holding in Kasten can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.  Several commentators point out that this marks a run of seven consecutive decisions in favor of retaliation plaintiffs by the Supreme Court since 2005.

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