According to a recent federal lawsuit, a worker who kept forgetting to punch in for work but had an excellent attendance record showed could bring a claim for retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., a worker – Kevin Kasten – kept forgetting to clock in and was terminated after he accumulated disciplinary points. Before he was fired, Kasten had orally complained to his employer that it had violated the FLSA by putting the clocks in areas that weren’t easily accessible.
This case received a lot of attention around the country and eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court where the issue of whether an “oral complaint” was considered a “protected activity” under the anti-retaliation provisions of the FLSA. If an action is considered a “protected activity,” then negative employment actions taken as a result of that activity may be considered violations of federal labor law.
If you have questions about the FLSA or other wage and hour laws, it’s a good idea to speak to an experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyer right away. The FLSA is an extremely complex statute and it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable Georgia labor law firm with significant experience representing clients in wage and hour cases.
The FLSA provides certain guidelines, including rules concerning minimum wage and overtime pay that apply to nearly every worker in the United States. Failure to comply with these guidelines may be a violation of the FLSA and an employer may be required to pay back wages, damages and even attorneys fees and costs associated with filing a wage and hour lawsuit. The government believes that this law is so important to workers that if a worker complains about an employer violating FLSA provisions and he or she is retaliated against, then the worker may be able to bring a FLSA retaliation lawsuit.
The Supreme Court determined that complaints about potential FLSA violations don’t have to be in writing – an oral complaint is sufficient.
Here, Kasten complained about the clocks being inconveniently located. Kasten then presented “evidence that his discharge involved suspicious timing (he was fired two days after asking about lawsuits relating to clock punches), ambiguous statements and behavior, and “evidence of pretextual reasoning for his discharge.”
As a result, the federal court determined that it was possible for Kasten to maintain his FLSA retaliation claim against his employer. The case will now proceed and may eventually reach a jury to determine whether he suffered retaliation.
It’s important to note – retaliation lawsuits differ from straight FLSA violation lawsuits. In retaliation claims, the negative action (such as being fired, transferred to a less desirable location or given worse hours) happens in response to you complaining about a labor violation – you don’t have to prove an actual violation occurred. The government wants to protect you from negative actions where you honestly believe your employer is violating your rights and discriminating against you.
For more information, or if you believe your employer has violated your FLSA rights – or you have been retaliated against for complaining about a labor law violation, please contact the experienced Georgia wage and hour lawyers Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.