Retaliation after Filing a Wage Case: Under the FLSA, Retaliation is Illegal

October 27, 2023 - Tip-pooling, Wage Theft

Employees are often discouraged from filing a tip theft lawsuit or unpaid overtime claims because of the fear of being fired if they do so. If an employee is not fired, the employee may be “managed out” of his or her job, placed on undesirable shifts, told to work holidays, etc. Under the FLSA, retaliation is illegal. Employers cannot retaliate against employees who file wage claims. If you have been fired after asserting a wage claim, contact a wage theft lawyer immediately. 

The FLSA retaliation provision is found at 29 U.S.C. 215 (a)(3), which states that an employer cannot “discharge or act in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee filed any complaint or instituted any proceeding under [the FLSA]…” 

Your employer cannot fire, demote, or discriminate against you because you exercise your rights to be paid all wages owed. The retaliation provision of the FLSA is broad, and provides employees significant protection. The wage and hour retaliation provisions cover a broad range of conduct. 

Protected activities include:

a. Filing a complaint or participating in an FLSA investigation: Employees who file a complaint with the Department of Labor, file an FLSA lawsuit, or participate in an investigation related to FLSA violations are protected from retaliation.

b. Opposing unlawful employment practices: Employees who oppose practices by their employer that they reasonably believe to be in violation of the FLSA are protected from retaliation.

c. Informing others about their rights: Employees have the right to inform their coworkers and colleagues about their rights under the FLSA without facing retaliation.

d. Testifying in FLSA-related proceedings: Employees who testify or provide information in legal proceedings or hearings related to FLSA compliance are protected from retaliation.Even informal complaints are protected. Complaints to a co-worker are also protected. 

What if you are fired because you filed an FLSA case? You can recover actual wages owed, additional liquidated damages equal to what you are owed (essentially, double damages), and attorney’s fees. Some courts allow for emotional distress damages relating to an unlawful termination. Some courts have even allowed punitive damages. 

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