The Supreme Court recently declined to hear appeals from two circuit court rulings regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act. In one ruling issued in July, 2013, the Second Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that the owner of a grocery chain was individually liable for a $3.5 million settlement in an unpaid wages claim. The lower court found that the business owner qualified as an employer due to his active participation in operational management, his financial control over the company, and his ultimate responsibility for wages and supervision. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the appeal in that case means the Second Circuit’s ruling stands, and business owners must be aware of the potential for personal liability for unpaid wages under the FLSA.
In a second case, the Eighth Circuit rejected an employer’s argument that the FLSA does not apply to undocumented workers. The Eight Circuit held that immigration status is irrelevant in FLSA cases, and explained that “the FLSA does not allow employers to exploit any employee’s immigration status or to profit from hiring unauthorized aliens in violation of federal law.”