In Cruz v. Maypa, the Fourth Circuit held the FLSA's statute of limitations may be tolled where an employer fails to provide employees notice of their rights under that statute. In Cruz, the Plaintiff traveled from the Philippines to the United States to work as a domestic employee. According to the Plaintiff, upon her arrival, her employer confiscated her passport and thereafter, required her to work seven days per week, 18 hours per day at a rate of USD 8 to USD 15 dollars per hour. Plaintiff further maintained that her employer never allowed her a day off to visit her family and threatened deportation should she leave their employ.
Five years after ending her employment, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleging violations of the FLSA and other laws. The district court dismissed Plaintiff's claims as time barred under the FLSA's three-year statute of limitations for willful violations. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that because her employer did not display notice of her FLSA rights in their home, the FLSA's statute of limitations should be tolled. In doing so, Plaintiff urged the Court to apply the notice rule it adopted in a previous case, Vance v. Whirlpool, 716 F.2d 1010 (4th Cir. 1983), wherein the Court held the 180-day filing deadline under the ADEA could be tolled due to an employer's failure to provide notice of rights as required under the statute. Due to the similarity between the notice requirements under the ADEA and the FLSA, the Fourth Circuit extended the application of Vance to Plaintiff's FLSA claims.
Planning Tip: Based on this decision, employers must be careful to provide up to date and accurate posters and notice of rights throughout their facilities.
Employers should also ensure that their handbooks and policies provide employees with accurate information regarding their statutory employment rights. Failure to do so could expose employers to FLSA and other statutory claims that occurred well outside of the statute of limitations period.