Missouri Employees are Protected From Retaliation Under the FLSA

Courts are seeing more cases accusing employers of firing workers in response to an employee's claim of wage and hour violations. Such forms of retaliation in the workplace are illegal, and remedies are available for violations.

Details of FLSA Retaliation Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is designed to protect an employee's right to a minimum wage, reasonable hours and overtime pay. It also forbids employers from discharging or discriminating against employees who "file any complaint" of an employer violating FLSA.

This anti-retaliation provision has faced increased scrutiny in courts as judges attempt to determine what satisfies the requirement for a "filed" complaint.

Current Case Brings Filing Issue into Spotlight

A recent federal Court of Appeals decision in the Fourth Circuit addressed this issue after an employee claimed her supervisor had removed overtime hours from several employee time sheets to avoid additional pay to employees. The complaint was made internally and did not include an official filing with the Department of Labor.

The Court was called to review whether the complaint satisfied the rules of FLSA's anti-retaliation provision. To assist in their review, they looked to a Supreme Court case that had previously held that an oral complaint falls within the protections of this provision as long as a reasonable employer could clearly understand the complaint and the employee's request for protection. Although the Supreme Court left the specific issue of an internal complaint not filed with a government agency ambiguous, many courts hold these complaints fall within the FLSA's protection - which is exactly what the Fourth Circuit held when they decided in the employee's favor.

How the Fourth Circuit Ruling Will Impact Missouri Law

Courts within the Eight Circuit, which includes Missouri, recognize the Supreme Court's ruling and may follow the Fourth Circuit's reasoning in future cases.

As a result, if you or a loved one is not receiving overtime pay and was terminated for voicing a complaint, remedies are likely available for lost wages. It is important to contact an experienced FLSA lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.