Supreme Court Holds That FLSA's Anti-Retaliation Provision Applies To Oral Complaints

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On March 22, 2011, in a 6–2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp.,1 held that the FLSA's anti-retaliation provision — which prohibits employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee because such employee has "filed any complaint" —includes oral as well as written complaints.

While employed by Saint-Gobain, Kevin Kasten made an oral complaint to Saint-Gobain officials that the location of the time clocks, past where the employees were required to put on and take off protective gear, was illegal under the FLSA. Kasten alleged that he was terminated because of the complaint and brought suit, alleging a claim of retaliation under the FLSA. The district court granted summary judgment to Saint-Gobain, finding that the FLSA's anti-retaliation provision did not protect oral complaints. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari, limited to the question of whether an oral complaint of a potential violation of the FLSA qualified as protected conduct under the FLSA.

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