The U.S. Supreme Court this morning released its 6-2 ruling in Kasten v. St. Gobain that an employee’s grousing is just as good as a a written complaint under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). The ruling is here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joined with the Equal Employment Advisory Council and the NFIB last year in an amicus brief arguing that the Fair Labor Standards Act provision is clear and narrower than similar provisions under other federal civil rights statutes which prohibit retaliation based on an individual’s mere opposition to an employment practice.
As the NAM Manufacturing Law Center entry explained, extending the FLSA to verbal complaints would undermine the ability of employers to effectively manage their workforces and enforce legitimate workplace rules. Requiring written complaints of potential violations “not only would facilitate swift resolution of the dispute, but also would discourage employees from making false or frivolous complaints that stem more from idle ‘grumblings’ than from legitimate workplace concerns.” Written complaints are fully protected against retaliation and can be properly addressed by management. If the law is interpreted to provide special status to employees making oral complaints, on the other hand, employers will face more difficult problems when addressing poor performance or disciplinary situations.
But the court ruled otherwise.
- Scotusblog entry, with briefs, background.
- Seattle Times, “Court says complaints don’t have to be written“
- ABA Journal, “Supreme Court Rules Oral Workplace Complaints Are Protected Under Labor Law“
Latest posts by Carter Wood (see all)
- Farewell from a Blogger - May 25, 2011
- Activist Ignore Evidence to Back Shakedown Suit Against Chevron - May 25, 2011
- More than a Lawsuit: A Circle of Political Pressure Against Chevron - May 25, 2011