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Wisconsin man wins federal appeal in retaliation suit

Last week we wrote about whistle-blower law and about how workers who report the illegal or fraudulent practices of their employers generally cannot be retaliated against for doing so. There are other types of situations in which employers cannot respond to an employee's complaint by firing him or her as well, and one such case that involved a Wisconsin man just wrapped up.

In that case, a man who worked for a plastics company in Portage was repeatedly disciplined for forgetting to clock in for work. The company had a policy that employees who failed to clock in or out on time could earn discipline points up until the point of suspension or termination. This man complained to his employer that the time clocks were not in easily accessible areas, and that this was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He was fired shortly thereafter.

The case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which was asked to decide whether the man's oral complaint could be protected under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court ruled that oral complaints did have protections and sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

However, that court found that the man did not provide enough evidence to prove that his oral FLSA complain caused the retaliation.

The man appealed, and a U.S. Court of Appeals has now sided with him. The three-judge panel said that he did in fact provide enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that he was retaliated against for making the FLSA complaint.

Source: State Bar of Wisconsin, "Clocking In: Federal Appeals Court Sides with Employee in Retaliation Suit," Joe Forward, Nov. 30, 2012

  • Our Milwaukee law firm handles Fair Labor Standards Act concerns as well as wrongful termination and retaliation. More information about our practice is available on our Milwaukee Wrongful Discharge page.

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