Last week, while most of us were focused on the events in Boston, the U.S. Supreme Court came down with a notable decision last week involving a wage & hour class action (it’s actually called a “collective” action, but for the non-lawyers out there, just think of it as a class action) and what should happen when a class representative fails to accept an offer to compromise by the employer that would have made the plaintiff “whole”.
Before you get too excited, its worth noting to the human resources professional out there that it’s hard to see how this case is going to change the day-to-day advice you are giving. This Supreme Court’s decision is one only a lawyer could love.
But the case is important for employers and lawyers, because it provides another tool to use in defending against wage & hour claims.
Indeed, combined with the court’s recent decisions limiting class actions (see Comcast Corp v. Behrand case) and enforcing arbitration provisions (see AT&T v. Concepcion line of cases), it demonstrates how the court system is grappling with an increasing number of wage & hour claims that threaten to overwhelm the system.
The Symczyk case has been neatly recapped in the Employment Class Action blog here:
The plaintiff brought FLSA claims challenging the employer’s use of an “auto-deduct” policy for meal periods. Along with its answer, the defendant made a Rule 68 offer to the plaintiff of judgment for $7,500, plus attorney fees and costs to be determined by the court….
When the plaintiff did not respond to the offer, the defendant moved to dismiss the case. The district court dismissed the FLSA claims on the basis of Rule 68 and remanded the remaining state law claims….
The Supreme Court … found that the district court had correctly dismissed the case. Because the plaintiff did not contest that her own personal claim would have been satisfied by the offer, the majority assumed that it did, indeed, moot her individual claim. .
Ultimately, the Court held that an offer of judgment under Rule 68 that satisfies the representative plaintiff’s claims moots a potential collective action under the FLSA. Continue Reading Offers of Judgment in FLSA Collective Actions: Another Tool for Wage & Hour Claims