U.S. Department of Labor Releases Three Fact Sheets Regarding Retaliation

January 29, 2012

By: Katherine Ritts Schafer

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division released three new Fact Sheets on unlawful retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act ("MSPA").  Although the Fact Sheets do not contain any new information on the prohibition against retaliation, they provide a good reminder to employers regarding the scope of the anti-retaliation provisions in these three statutes.

Fact Sheet #77A provides general information concerning the FLSA's prohibition of retaliating against any employee who has filed a complaint or cooperated in an investigation.  The Fact Sheet reminds employers that an employee who files a complaint under the FLSA is protected from retaliation regardless of whether the complaint was made orally or in writing.  The Fact Sheet also states that the anti-retaliation provision of the FLSA applies even in situations where there is no current employment relationship; for example, former employees are also protected from retaliation.  The Fact Sheet further indicates that complaints made to the Wage and Hour Division are protected and that "most courts have ruled that internal complaints to an employer are also protected."

Fact Sheet #77B provides general information concerning the FMLA's prohibition of retaliation against an individual for exercising his or her rights protected under the FMLA.  The Fact Sheet provides examples of prohibited conduct, which include:  discouraging an employee from using FMLA leave, manipulating an employee's work hours to avoid responsibilities under the FMLA, and counting FMLA leave as absences under "no fault" attendance policies.

Fact Sheet #77C provides general information concerning the MSPA's prohibition of discrimination against a migrant or seasonal agricultural worker who has filed a complaint or participated in any proceeding under the MSPA.  The MSPA applies to agricultural employers, agricultural associations, and farm labor contractors who engage in at least one of the following activities:  furnishing, employing, soliciting, hiring, or transporting one or more migrant or seasonal agricultural workers.