Verbal Complaints May Suffice To Raise Retaliation Claim Under FLSA

According to Federal Labor Law – the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – If you are concerned that your employer is not paying you the wages you believe you are entitled to, and you suffer retaliation for complaining, you may be entitled to protection, including back wages and damages, if you file a lawsuit. This raises the question, what does it mean to “file a complaint?”

Several courts have addressed this question. Most recently, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals determined that an employee could be entitled to the protections of the statute after he orally complained to a supervisor that he hadn’t been paid in months. This case over ruled prior decisions that held that a complaint had to be “filed” – presumably a written document. The Second Circuit overruled its prior case law to find that the FLSA does not limit its scope to workers who file formal, written complaints with government agencies. As a result, this means that many more workers may be able to sue. The Second Circuit explained that although “a grumble in the hallway” about pay policies would not suffice, workers that make an oral or written complaint to an employer that is “sufficiently clear and detailed” may be able to recover under the statute.

The court further explained that in order to ensure the FLSA is adhered to, it should be given an expansive interpretation, and limiting the protections of the statute to employees who make complaints only to government agencies “would discourage the use of desirable informal workplace grievance procedures to secure compliance with the Act.”

Thus, if you believe you have not received all the pay you deserve, and you make a clear complaint – whether orally or in writing – and you are retaliated against, you may be entitled to receive damages pursuant to the FLSA. For more information, contact the experienced Georgia wage and hour lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.