In a significant Supreme Court employment law decision on behalf of workers, the Supreme Court has recently determined that an oral complaint of a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act is protected by the FLSA’s “anti-retaliation” provisions. FLSA violations include, but are not limited to, actions that deny workers’ rights to minimum wage and overtime pay. Under federal law, if an employee “files any complaint” alleging violations of the FLSA the employer may be subject to a retaliation lawsuit if they then take “negative employment actions” against that employee. Negative employment actions include actions such as firing an employee, scheduling worse hours or transferring an employee to an inconvenient work location.
Here, an employee – Kevin Kasten - complained several times to HR personnel about the location of time clocks at a plastic corporation. He claimed that he and other workers were not paid for time spent donning and doffing because the time clocks were located outside the dressing areas. Kasten was then fired. The company argued that since the employee did not make a written complaint – only oral – he was not protected from retaliation.