For over 30 years, most district courts throughout the country have used a two-step conditional certification process to govern certification of collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  But in its recent and game-changing opinion, the Fifth Circuit rejected that two-step process and laid out a stricter framework for FLSA collective actions. 
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Rejects Two-Step FLSA Certification Process

An Alabama federal judge granted AutoZone’s request to dismiss nearly 500 current and former store managers from a nationwide collective action that the national auto-parts chain had misclassified them as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act
and denied them overtime, holding those plaintiffs had missed the three-year statute of limitations and that plaintiffs had failed to establish equitable tolling should apply to save their claims.
Continue Reading The Doctrine of Equitable Tolling Won’t Save Hundreds of Store Managers from Dismissal in AutoZone’s Nationwide Overtime Suit

This month, the Southern District of Florida declined to certify a nationwide class of Denny’s servers alleging the restaurant chain had violated the minimum wage and tip credit provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act on the basis that the named plaintiff failed to provide enough evidence that the servers were similarly situated.
Continue Reading Proposed Nationwide Class of Denny’s Restaurant Servers Denied Certification in FLSA Action

A recent Fifth Circuit opinion held that a company’s arbitration agreement did not prevent employees from pursuing their claims as a collective arbitration, rather than individual claims.  As class claims related to COVID-19 begin to surge, the opinion provides occasion for companies to review their arbitration agreements to ensure that the companies’ aims are clearly drafted.
Continue Reading As COVID-based Class Actions Loom, Fifth Circuit Provides Reminder for Arbitration Agreements and Class Action Waivers

Massachusetts’ highest court, The Supreme Judicial Court, recently issued its long awaited decision in Sullivan v. Sleepy’s LLC, SJC-12542, in which the SJC responded to certified questions of first impression from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case is particularly important for businesses which pay employees through commissions or draws (i.e., advances on commissions), particularly in the retail context where the ruling departs considerably from federal law.
Continue Reading Massachusetts Retail and Inside Salespersons Are Now Entitled to Overtime and Sunday Premium Pay

In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco Cty., the U.S. Supreme Court established limitations on personal jurisdiction over non-resident defendants in “mass actions,” effectively supporting the view that plaintiffs cannot simply “forum shop” in large class and collective actions and instead must sue where the corporate defendant has significant contacts for purposes of general jurisdiction or limit the class definition to residents of the state where the lawsuit is filed.  Notably, the Supreme Court’s decision was limited to personal jurisdiction issues in state courts, which has led to a split on the question of whether, and to what extent, the Supreme Court’s analysis applies to class and collective actions pending in federal court. 
Continue Reading District Courts Are Divided On Whether Bristol-Myers Extends to the Federal Class Action Context

Before the lame duck period of the 115th Congress, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and a group of 58 Democrat co-sponsors, introduced the Restoring Justice for Workers Act (H.R. 7109), which would prohibit  employers from requiring employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements.
Continue Reading Epic Changes to Epic Systems: House Democrats Seek to Prohibit Class Waivers in Arbitration Agreements

The Department of Labor recently published an Opinion Letter (FLSA-2018-27) reissuing its January 16, 2009 guidance (Opinion Letter FLSA-2009-23) and reversing its Obama-era position on the 20% tip credit rule.  This opinion letter marks another major shift in DOL’s policy and presents a welcome change for employers in the restaurant industry.


Continue Reading DOL “Tips” the Scale in Favor of Restaurant Employers by Ending 20% Tip Credit Rule

As we wrote about last month, on May 21, 2018, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 138 S. Ct. 1632 (2018), rejecting perhaps the largest remaining obstacles to the enforcement of class action waivers in arbitration agreements in the employment context.  The Court concluded that the class action waivers did not violate the National Labor Relations Act.  Although the Court’s opinion also seemed dispositive of whether such agreements could be avoided under the Fair Labor Standards Act, at least one claimant tried to continue to litigate the issue, which was disposed of last week in Gaffers v. Kelly Servs., Inc., No. 16-2210 (6th Cir. 2018).  And now the Sixth Circuit has addressed whether Epic Systems would apply to arbitration agreements with putative independent contractors who contended that they should have been treated as employees.
Continue Reading Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding Arbitration Agreements Applies to Independent Contractors Too

Andrea Mickles filed a complaint against her employer Country Club Inc., alleging it had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by improperly classifying her and other employees as independent contractors and failing to pay them minimum wage and overtime.  She filed her case as a collective action, and others opted into the case before any ruling on conditional certification. 
Continue Reading Who’s Invited to the Party?: The Status of Collective Action Opt-Ins