The bottom-line warning issued to employers in Ohio and nationally in a recent media report addressing litigation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act is that there is a new — and material — concern to worry about.
And that is this: plaintiffs seeking money damages for emotional distress they allegedly suffered from wage-and-hour violations committed by employers.
“The stakes are getting higher,” notes one commentator pointing to growing agreement among federal court circuits that former and current workers can seek money recoveries in cases where employers retaliated against them in a wage-and-hour matter.
And here’s a fundamental point regarding FLSA retaliation cases: unlike employee claims alleging unfair workplace treatment under federal discrimination laws, a pro-plaintiff ruling against an employer in a wage/hour retaliation case can yield emotional distress damages that are not capped by any monetary ceiling.
Ohio employers and others nationally obviously need to be well aware of the potential for harshly adverse outcomes to result in FLSA retaliation cases.
And that implies a comprehensive and well-tailored workplace-based training program for HR managers, supervisors and even rank-and-file employees.
Notably, and as a recent employment-related article duly points out, retaliation can be a bit of a slippery slope, with employees accused of engaging in bad-faith actions sometimes having no true intent to engage in wrongdoing. The article terms their conduct “inadvertent retaliation.”
A solid onsite training program will seek to safeguard against that and other behaviors and incidents that could give rise to a worker’s complaint and demand for emotional distress damages.
Company principals with questions or concerns regarding any aspect of a discrimination-based or FLSA complaint can secure on-point guidance and proven legal advocacy from a labor law attorney with a deep well of experience representing management in employment law disputes.