Thursday, May 2, 2013

Genesis v Symczyk – A Win for the Employer

In April 2013, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in Genesis v Symczyk, making it easier for employers to limit the scope of wage and hour “collective actions,” under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). In this decision, the US Supreme Court held that an employer can obtain dismissal of collective actions when the named plaintiff’s claim becomes moot, clarifying that that there is no “headless class” (i.e., a class without a representative plaintiff) under the FLSA.

By way of background, the underlying issue in the case was whether a former employee who no longer had a personal stake in the outcome of a putative collective action against her former employer for unpaid wages could continue to prosecute her lawsuit in search of other potential complainants. The District Court dismissed the case for mootness, saying there was no real controversy because the employer had already offered the former employee all that she could possibly hope to recover in unpaid wages, and no other employee had opted into the suit.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the District Court decision, holding that the case could proceed. The employer filed a petition for US Supreme Court review on Feb. 17, 2012. AHCA/NCAL filed an amicus brief in support of that request. On June 25, 2012, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on its merits. AHCA/NCAL filed another amicus brief in support of the employer, on September 6, 2012. Oral arguments occurred on Dec. 3, 2012, and the US Supreme Court made its final decision in April 2013. AHCA/NCAL has been supporting the employer in these proceedings and is pleased with the outcome.

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