HR Management & Compliance

Supreme Court Won’t Review FLSA Whistleblower Protection for HR Director

By Kate McGovern Tornone, Editor

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will not review an appeals court ruling that a wage and hour complaint lodged by a Human Resources director can be “protected activity” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as long as she is not responsible for compliance with the law.

The director—who was fired for complaining—can continue with her FLSA retaliation claim because her boss insisted that he handle wage and hour compliance, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—which covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—held last year (Rosenfield v. GlobalTranz Enterprises, Inc., No. 13-15292 (9th Cir. Dec. 14, 2015)).

Alla Rosenfield worked as an HR director for GlobalTranz Enterprises, Inc. She complained repeatedly to her supervisor that the company had misclassified a large number of employees, in violation of the FLSA. Her boss, however, made it clear that he considered himself solely responsible for FLSA compliance and that he did not appreciate her complaints and reports.

After she had lodged numerous complaints, her supervisor eventually agreed to fix the violations. She soon discovered that he had not remedied the problem so she documented the noncompliance and complained again. He fired her 5 days later, according to court documents.

Rosenfield sued, alleging that GlobalTranz fired her for complaining about FLSA violations.

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