Oral Complaints and Their Effect on Summary Judgment for FLSA Retaliation Law Suits: Kasten v. Saint Gobain

On March 22, 2011, the Supreme Court came to a decision in Kasten v. Saint GobainThe Seventh Circuit had ruled that an oral complaint made to an employer who the employee believed was violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) did not fall under the anti-retaliation provision of the act. The Court reversed the Seventh Circuit and found that an oral complaint was sufficient. This decision raises questions about the standards under which summary judgment could be granted in an FLSA retaliation case.

Prior to this decision, it was easy to determine whether or a filed complaint complied with the standards of the retaliation provision. The Court in Kasten spells out exactly what a complaint which complies with the statute would look like. Essentially the complaint would have to be “sufficiently clear and detailed for a reasonable employer to understand it.” The employee would have to ensure that Read the rest

Protecting the Unprotected Domestic Worker


Domestic Workers are legally marginalized under current labor and employment law. They are currently unprotected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Further, they are de facto excluded from protection under a number of laws, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which exempt employers who employ fewer than a specified number of employees. Section 2(3) of the NLRA explicitly excludes domestic workers from its protection because the term “employee” is defined to “not include any individual employed … in the domestic service of any family or person at his home” including nannies, housecleaners, caregivers, companions, etc.

Protection under the current NLRA is infeasible. Even if the definition of “employees” were expanded to include domestic workers the enterprises covered by the NLRA are limited to employers “affecting commerce.” This requirement is further limited, via Read the rest

New Process Steel, L.P. v. National Labor Relations Board: Three Months Later

On June 17, 2010, the Supreme Court held in New Process Steel, L.P. v. NLRB that over 600 decisions made by two-member panels of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must be vacated and reheard because the procedure of having two-member panels hear a dispute did not comply with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The majority and the dissent both based their decisions on their interpretation of the statute. However, in his dissent, Justice Kennedy also highlights the fact that when Congress passed the NLRA, they surely did not intend to allow the Labor Board be left defunct for a long period of time.

While labor unions in the United States have been in a serious decline for many years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2009 there were still 7.9 million workers in the private sector that belonged to a union. These 7.9 million people do Read the rest

Eyes Wide Open: Expanding Views on the Alien Tort Claims Act


The Alien Tort Claim Act (ATCA) has been a source of controversy over the past years. Originally, it was used as a way to govern relations between nations, but now it is being utilized by human rights activists in order to hold corporations responsible for acts performed by their subsidiaries which infringe upon the rights of people in foreign nations in which the company resides. [1] The Act reads: “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” [2] 

This article will discuss the history of corporate liability under the ATCA. It will then follow by spotlighting a case that almost set precedent in terms of corporate liability under the ATCA. It will conclude with a discussion of the effects of utilizing the Read the rest

SAG Power Struggle Spills Into Court Amidst Talk of Strike

I. Introduction

In February 2008, when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) ended the acrimonious three-month strike that crippled American television production, a sense of relief spread throughout the entertainment industry.[1]  Hollywood studios had achieved three years of labor peace with writers, television production would resume, and the Oscars could air undisturbed.[2]  Any feelings of elation were short-lived, however, as the industry collectively turned its head toward the impending expiration of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) contract that summer.[3]  Despite the express desire of both parties to avoid a reprise of the writers’ strike, the June 30 expiration date came and went without a new agreement between SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).[4]  SAG members have now been working under an expired contract for over seven months, with the threat of another strike persistently looming.[5]  Further complicating matters has been a power struggle between hardliners … Read the rest

Non-Compete Agreements: Friend or Foe?

I. Introduction

In today's economic climate, the excitement of finding a new job
can be overwhelming. Additionally, In the rush of starting work, it is
easy to skim the fine print of a contract without fully understanding
its terms. Non-compete agreements in employment contracts can cause
much unnecessary hardship on an individual once that individual
chooses to switch jobs. Additionally, while it may seem unintuitive
that an individual cannot use skills learned at one job to advance his
career at another job, many companies rely on non-compete clauses to
limit just that. This article will discuss non-compete agreements
generally, the history of non-compete agreements and the legal
standards state courts use in examining non-compete agreements. It will
then discuss how to enforce and contest non-compete agreements.
Finally, it will conclude by giving advice for the employer or employee
who is unsure about how to approach a non-compete agreement.

II. Non-Compete Read the rest

Airline Labor Disputes and the RLA Status Quo Provisions

I. Introduction

On March 7, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit filed its opinion in the case of International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. North American Airlines. [1] It addressed the question of whether a labor union is entitled to enjoin an air carrier to prevent it from unilaterally altering the working conditions of its pilots, while negotiations for an initial collective bargaining agreement are still pending. [2] The court cited the Supreme Court's interpretation of the status quo provisions of the Railway Labor Act of 1926 in Williams v. Jacksonville Terminal Co., in ruling that unilateral alteration of working conditions are not prohibited in cases where there is no prior collective bargaining agreement, regardless of any pending negotiations. [3] The Teamsters case well illustrates a continuing debate as to whether the Supreme Court's interpretation of the RLA's status quo provisions still adequately serves the … Read the rest

College Football Coaching Carousel

I. Introduction

Both the National Football League (“NFL”) and the National
Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) have endured their fair share of high
profile coaching defections either from one university to another, university
to professional franchise, or professional franchise to university.[1] Among the high profile coaches who have
abandoned their respective clubs under contract are Nick Saban, formerly of the
Miami Dolphins and currently with the University of Alabama, Bobby Petrino,
head football coach at Arkansas via the Atlanta Falcons, and Rich Rodriguez,
the freshly minted coach at the University of Michigan.[2] The defections by Saban and Petrino received
a fair amount of attention. However, the
Rich Rodriguez situation may be enough to scare other high profile coaches from
jumping ship too soon.

II.  Background

Nick Saban led the LSU Tigers to a BCS National Championship
in 2004.[3] He then left LSU for the NFL to coach the
Read the rest

Overtime Pay and White-Collar Exemptions: Seeking Clarification in Light of Recent Revisions

I.     Introduction

The New York Times recently asked, "In today's perpetual workplace, where downtime has merged with work time, where you can carry your office in your pocket, where collars are no longer distinctly blue or white, how does one measure overtime?" [1] Such questions lead to others, concerning the purpose of overtime pay, the reasons for distinguishing between types of employees, and the role the federal government ought to play in resolving the growing inconsistencies and confusion of the complex structure of overtime law. This article examines recent changes to the overtime laws concerning exemption of white-collar workers and any effects, beneficial or burdensome, that they may have on individual workers and the economy as a whole.

II.     Background

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") was enacted in 1938, as a substantial piece of the New Deal response to the economic and social damage done by the … Read the rest

Billable Hours Be Gone: Should the Hourly Billing System Be Replaced?

I. Introduction

Law firms have adjusted to recent generations of associates that demand a better quality of life in conjunction with their careers. [1] A young lawyer wants it all: a successful career, a family, and time for a social-life outside the office. "Work/life balance" has become a buzzword for firms attempting to recruit the best and brightest. Some firms have responded to the needs of working parents who prioritize childrearing by offering reduced and alternative working schedules. [2] Others allow associates to bill some of their time to pro bono work, which increases the esteem of the profession [3] in addition to satiating a young associate's need to make a difference. While programs such as these move toward the much sought after "work/life balance." they may not be enough to truly achieve a happy, well-balanced life.

"[Practicing law] has become a soul-destroying business. . . . The cynics flourish, … Read the rest