Supreme Court Expands Antiretaliation Protection to Oral Complaints of Wage/Hour Violations


Employers have long been aware that a failure to investigate complaints of workplace discrimination or harassment may lead to significant liability, even if those complaints are made orally or are otherwise informal. On March 22, in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., the Supreme Court made clear that employers ignore wage-related complaints at their own risk, by holding that even oral complaints fall within the antiretaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA, or the Act). This decision resolves a conflict among various Courts of Appeals, some of which include oral complaints within the protections afforded by the FLSA’s antiretaliation provision (the 5th and 9th Circuits, covering Texas and California, among other states) and at least one which does not (the 2nd Circuit, covering New York, Connecticut, and Vermont).

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