Overtime compensation is always a heavily discussed topic in the field of employment law. Employers are often accused of trying to force their employees to work longer hours for lesser wages.
A recent United States Supreme Court decision again addressed this specific issue and gave further guidance as to interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) concerning the compensation of employees for their hours worked. The FLSA also provides anti-retaliation provisions prohibiting employers from terminating employees that have complained about overtime requirements.
Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. concerned a worker’s oral complaint that employees were not compensated for the time it took for them to change in and out of protective gear. The plaintiff alleges that he was fired by his employer for lodging this complaint in violation of the FLSA. The employer countered that the FLSA anti-retaliation provision only concerned written rather than oral complaints.
The Supreme Court held that the language “filed any complaint” in the FLSA language indeed applied to oral complaints as well as written ones. The extension to oral complaints is significant if for no other reason than it provides employees further protection from retaliation for bringing up valid complaints concerning violations of employee’ rights. It’s also significant in that employees should not, out of concerns for losing their jobs, be intimidated by employers that attempt to circumvent the law.
Especially in these economic times, all of the wages we receive is likely going towards support of our families. If we are forced to stay at our employment longer hours as a condition of our job, we should also be compensated for that time we remain on the jobsite.
Source: PoliceOne.com, “2011 in Review: 7 key decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court,” by Terrence P. Dwyer, Esq., Dec. 9, 2011