Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Kasten v Saint-Goban Performance Plastics. The ruling in this case held that an employee’s Fair Labor Standards Act complaints don’t have to be written to be protected from retaliation by their employers. This is the third decision to be issued by the highest court in the area of employment law. In all three of these decisions the court has held for employees against their employers.
What happened in this case? An employee, Kasten, gave an oral complaint to his supervisors about the location of the time clocks. Kasten believed that the location of the time clocks was illegal because it was placed so that the employees could only clock in after they had put on all of their protective gear.
Subsequently, Kasten was given a warning for being late to work. When he was late again to work he was fired. He sued his employer, alleging retaliatory discharge. Saint-Goban responded that Kasten’s complaint was not protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act because the complaints were oral, and therefore; the discriminatory discharge suit could not stand.
What does this decision mean for you as an employer? Every time that an employee complains a wage and/or hour issue record the complaint regardless of whether the complaint was made orally or was written.
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