The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Virginia, recently held that the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act [pdf] does not apply to an unsuccessful applicant for employment. In Dellinger v. Science Applications Int’l Corp., [pdf] a job applicant claimed that a prospective employer extended her a job offer subject to contingencies, but then decided not to hire her because it found out that she sued her former employer for alleged FLSA violations. The Fourth Circuit affirmed a dismissal of the complaint, concluding that the plaintiff cannot sue the prospective employer for retaliation under the FLSA when she was not hired because the FLSA’s purposes is to regulate the employer-employee relationship.
Will this decision apply to other employment laws? Most likely not. Most other employment laws have a broader definition of “employee” than the definition of “employee” under the FLSA or specifically apply to prospective employees.
Employers should also be cautious before deciding not to hire an applicant solely because of a previous FLSA lawsuit. The Department of Labor filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in this case and had an attorney for the Court of Appeals oral argument.