SOURCE: Nichols Kaster, PLLP

Nichols Kaster, PLLP

March 23, 2010 17:04 ET

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Review Retaliation Case Brought by Former Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation Employee Represented by Nichols Kaster, PLLP

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - March 23, 2010) -  The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on March 22, 2010 to determine whether oral complaints constitute protected activity under the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA")

Plaintiff Kevin Kasten alleges that he was terminated from his employment with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics because he followed company policy and verbally complained to his supervisors about the "illegal" location of the company's time clocks, which caused employees to perform off-the-clock work. Mr. Kasten subsequently filed a collective and class action on behalf of himself and the other employees, and prevailed as a matter of law on collective class claims for violations of the FLSA.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin nevertheless dismissed Mr. Kasten's retaliation case on the grounds that oral complaints are not protected under the FLSA. A three-judge panel at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the FLSA protects individuals who "file any complaint," but that "[o]ne cannot 'file' an oral complaint; there is no document, such as a paper or record, to deliver to someone who can put it in its proper place."

Three Seventh Circuit judges dissented from the decision to deny rehearing en banc. The dissent explained, "In deeming the statutory language to reach only written and not oral complaints, the court has taken a position contrary to the longstanding view of the Department of Labor, departed from the holdings of other circuits, and interpreted the statutory language in a way that I believe is contrary to the understanding of Congress."

The U.S. Supreme Court will finally decide the matter. Plaintiff's counsel James H. Kaster stated, "The Seventh Circuit employed a very narrow reading of the words 'filed any complaint' which excludes from protection the vast majority of complaints that employees make. We are hoping for a more open and realistic construction from the Supreme Court."

Plaintiff is represented by James H. Kaster and Adrianna S. Haugen from Nichols Kaster, PLLP, which has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. The case is entitled Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., No. 09-834 (U.S. Sup. Ct.).

Contact Information

  • Contact: Adrianna S. Haugen or James H. Kaster, Nichols Kaster, PLLP (612) 256-3200