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Supremes: No class? No FLSA class-action!

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 16 dismissed a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) suit, reaching the somewhat obvious conclusion that a wage-and-hour case that fails to attract class members has no standing to proceed as a class-action lawsuit.

In 2009, Laura Symczyk sued, alleging that Genesis Healthcare had violated the FLSA. She sought class-action status for all other similarly situated Genesis employees. Genesis offered to settle with Symczyk by giving her back pay and covering her legal expenses. After she failed to accept the deal within 10 days, Genesis pulled the offer. Meanwhile, no other employees decided to join the suit.

A lower court and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the settlement offer satisfied the FLSA’s requirements, and tossed Symczyk’s claim. However, the 3rd Circuit said the class-action could proceed.

Writing for the majority in Genesis Healthcare Corp. et al. v. Symczyk (No. 11-1059, U.S. Supreme Court, 2013), Justice Clarence Thomas ruled that the case was moot since no one else had opted to join the class.

Effect: This is an extremely narrow ruling. However, some plaintiff’s lawyers may respond by bringing more pay class actions under state law.

Supreme Court case could reset bar on retaliation cases

On April 24, the Supreme Court was set to hear a case that could answer a nagging question about retaliation lawsuits: Must an employee prove that protected status was the sole motive for retaliation, or can it be one of many possible reasons?

Learn more about University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar in "Supreme Court to decide burden of proof in Title VII retaliation cases."

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