Letting Off Steam
Q: Repeatedly, I called my employer’s attention to the unlawful location of its time clocks. I would raise a concern with my shift supervisor that it was illegal for the time clocks to be where they were because that would exclude the time you come in and start doing stuff. Then I was fired.
A: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, it is unlawful to discharge you because you have “filed any complaint”. In addition to an official grievance filed with a court or an agency, this retaliation law contemplates even a mere oral objection to an employer.
It does not matter that other uses of the word ‘complaint’ in the FLSA refer to an official document filed with the government, that ‘filed’ often means presenting something in a formal way or that other activities protected by the FLSA involve going to the government. What counts is that Congress had a purpose to assure fair compensation to covered employees. Protecting our kind of oral objections best accords with this purpose.
Because oral objections are covered, any company can wonder whether an employee is actually making a covered complaint or is just letting off steam. If indeed the company fired you because of your objection, then seemingly the company knew very well that your objection was far more serious than just letting off steam.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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