Protection from Retaliation Extends to Employees Who Only Make Oral Complaints about FLSA Violations

In Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., the Supreme Court clarified the language contained within the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (Act) that forbids employers “to discharge . . . any employee because such employee has filed any complaint” alleging a violation of the Act, 29 U. S. C. ยง215(a)(3). In reversing the Seventh Circuit Court, the Supreme Court held that the scope of statutory term “filed any complaint” includes ORAL, as well as written, complaints.

Kasten brought an anti-retaliation suit against his former employer claiming that he was discharged because he orally complained to company officials about the location of the timeclocks that employees had to use. Specifically, Kasten complained that by placing timeclocks in a certain location, the employer was prevented workers from receiving credit for the time they spent donning and doffing work related protective gear. While his complaint was justified, as evidenced by a decision in a related case that found that the employer violated the FLSA, his employer argued that retaliating against Kasten for voicing his complaint was not subject to the anti-retaliation clause of the FLSA because it was only an oral complaint, which is not a protected activity. The Supreme Court, however, found otherwise, and said that even oral complaints alleging violation of the FLSA are protected under the statute and cannot result in retaliation from the employer.

If you think that you’ve been retaliated against by your employer for making a complaint about time you’ve spent working for which you are not compensated or for which you don’t receive overtime compensation, then please contact Pogust Braslow & Millrood for a free consultation.