In Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., 570 F.3d 834 (7th Cir. 2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a complaint against an employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. ("FLSA"), must be in writing in order to trigger the statute's anti-retaliation provision.
Plaintiff Kevin Kasten filed suit under the FLSA claiming that his employer had retaliated against him on the basis of his verbal complaints regarding the physical placement of company time clocks. Specifically, Kasten complained that the location of the time clocks required personnel to put on their protective work gear before "swiping in" and to take off their gear after "swiping out," costing them between twenty minutes and two and a half hours of paid time per week. According to Kasten, the employer terminated his employment in retaliation for these verbal complaints.
Kasten filed a lawsuit against the employer, alleging that it had retaliated against him in violation of the FLSA. The district court granted summary judgment for the employer, dismissing Kasten's claim. Kasten appealed and the Seventh Circuit affirmed.
The FLSA prohibits an employer from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee "because such employee has filed any complaint" under the FLSA (emphasis added). Based upon this language, the Seventh Circuit held that in order to state a retaliation claim under the FLSA, an employee's complaint must be in writing.
In Kasten, the Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the anti-retaliation provision of the FLSA protects employees who only make verbal complaints about wage and hour violations.