North America

Supreme Court Rules Oral Complaints Protected by FLSA But Leaves Open Questions of Notice and Formality

by Charles Wilson

On March 22nd, the Supreme Court, in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., a 6-2 opinion written by Justice Breyer, ruled the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) protects oral complaints of perceived wage and hour violations. In making such ruling, the Court resolved a conflict among the lower courts but left open the question of what is sufficient fair notice and whether an employee is required to report the complaint to a government agency rather than internally to the employer. Regardless, the Court’s ruling will likely expose employers to more risk of retaliation claims when making adverse employment decisions after an employee raises concerns about how they are compensated.

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EpsteinBeckerGreen Wins Dismissal of Servers’ Wage and Tip Claims Against Restaurant

On January 14, 2011, EpsteinBeckerGreen helped one of its restaurant clients, the Brasserie Ruhlmann, obtain summary judgment “in its entirety” in a lawsuit brought by former waiters, bussers, and runners (“Plaintiffs”).  Similar to many such wage and hour cases currently being litigated in the hospitality industry, Plaintiffs sought to invalidate the restaurant’s tip pool with assertions that captains and the banquet coordinator performed managerial functions and, thus, were not “tip eligible.”  If Plaintiffs had succeeded, they would have also invalidated the restaurant’s “tip credit” system of compensating service employees, potentially resulting in significant minimum wage and overtime liability.  Plaintiffs made further claims for tips during their initial training period, alleged “spread of hours” violations, and alleged uniform maintenance violations. 

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LMA 2011 Annual Conference – Sessions I’ll be Attending

It’s that time again – time for the 2011 Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference. This year, it will be in Orlando, Florida and after the winter we’ve had, I couldn’t be happier about it!

But it’s not all sun and fun – there’s a lot of work, and valuable networking too.

I’m posting a list of the sessions I’ll be attending – I’ll be tweeting from each and blogging a re-cap of each session as well.  To follow along with the Twitter stream, you can check out the #LMA11 hashtag – that aggregates all of the tweets that contain that hashtag – you can follow me on Twitter, or you can follow Laura Gutierrez or Heather Morse’s Twitter lists.

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Oral Discomfort: Supreme Court Holds That Verbal FLSA Complaints Suffice

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., __ U.S. __ (March 22, 2011), holds that an employee’s oral complaint of a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) constitutes protected conduct under the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision.

EBG partner Frank C. Morris, Jr., discusses in an EBG Act Now Advisory the fact that the Kasten decision is merely the latest in an ever-growing series of cases where the Supreme Court has broadly interpreted protections against retaliation and for whistleblowers.  The EBG Act Now Advisory also addresses what employers should do in light of these recent decisions.


To review the EBG Act Now Advisory on this issue, click here.

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ILN-terviews: Carole Barrett, Howard Rice

Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Carole Barrett of Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco, California.

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Attorney’s JasonTremblay, Paul Starkman and Jenifer Caracciolo secure significant victory for long-time client

E. Jason Tremblay

Paul E. Starkman

Jenifer H. Caracciolo

Chicago Partners Jason TremblayPaul Starkman, and Jenifer Caracciolo, recently obtained a significant victory on behalf of a global travel technology company. The client was sued by a former employee for gender and disability discrimination, as well as retaliation, after the employee was terminated for his violation of the company’s medical leave policy.

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Medical Marijuana Legislation Update

Read an update on the Legislature’s consideration of medical marijuana bills ESSB 5073 and HB 1550.

For more information please visit

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Special Immigration Alert: USCIS Announces Policy Review on H-1B Cap Exemptions Based on Relation or Affiliation

On March 16, 2011, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it is currently reviewing its policy on H-1B cap exemptions for nonprofit entities that are related to, or affiliated with, an institution of higher learning. Effective immediately, and as an interim measure, the USCIS will approve H-1B nonprofit entity petitions seeking an exemption from the H-1B numerical cap and filing fees based on affiliation with, or relation to, an institution of higher learning as long as the petitioning entity can demonstrate that: (1) it has secured prior approvals for similar petitions since June 6, 2006; and (2) there has been no material change in circumstances. These interim procedures are temporary and will remain in place until the USCIS releases additional guidance.

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Washington Announces Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Training Webinars

Washington State announces webinars to aid hospitals and eligible professionals in registering for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

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Five Hot Tips for Client and Business Development

During our recent 2011 Asia Pacific Regional Meeting in Hanoi, I gave a presentation on five hot tips for client and business development.  These are all things that are familiar to the lawyers in our group, and probably all of you as well, but because they’re important, I felt they bear repeating.

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