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Supreme Court: Oral complaints have retaliation protection, too

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in Employment Law

Employees are three-for-three in employment law cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this term, now that the Justices have decided that an employee doesn’t have to complain in writing in order to be protected from employer retaliation.

The court ruled 6-2 that employee Kevin Kasten’s oral complaints about his employer’s time clocks were just as valid as a written complaint. He sued for retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act when he was fired after voicing his concerns.

The court handed down its opinion in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics (09-834, U.S. Supreme Court, 2011) on March 22.

The lesson for employers: Anytime a worker complains about wage-and-hour issues—even if it’s only an oral comment—make a note for your records. And remind everyone involved that they must not retaliate against employees who complain.

The case is yet another victory for employees arguing cases in the 2010-11 Supreme Court term. The court previously ruled in employees’ favor in Thompson v. North American Stainless and Staub v. Proctor Hospital.

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