Verbal Complaints Can Fall Within the Protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act's Anti-Retaliation Provision

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On March 22, 2011, in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., the United States Supreme Court held that an employee who lodges verbal complaints regarding alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. §201 et seq. (“FLSA”), may be entitled to protection of the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision. The Kasten decision is a boon to employees, but could create potential problems for employers.

The FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against an employee “because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted any proceedings under or related to [the FSLA][.]” 29 U.S.C. §215(a)(3). The Kasten Court was presented with the question as to whether “filed any complaint” includes oral as well as written complaints. In a 6-2 decision, the Court concluded that it did.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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