When a worker has the courage to step forward to assert his or her statutory rights - like the right to be paid the minimum wage and overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - he or she must be free from intimidation by corporate defendants. Courts must retain the prerogative to intervene on behalf of individuals and class and collective action members, to prevent wrongdoing companies from engaging in misleading and coercive communications with witnesses and potential claimants, designed to suppress participation in actions asserting important, protected rights.
In Acosta v. Austin Electrical Services, LLC, 322 F.Supp.3d 951 (D.Ariz. 2018), the District Court issued a preliminary injunction (among other things) striking declarations a company gathered in trying to beat back a FLSA lawsuit, because the declarations it gathered from its workers were based upon misleading communications. As in other similar cases against other companies, when it pressured employees into signing declarations to use in its defense, Austin Electrical did not tell the workers the details of the lawsuit, who was representing the workers, what they might stand to gain in the suit (recovering unpaid wages), or other important details. The company appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
In the amicus brief supporting the U.S. Department of Labor, Bryan Schwartz Law, along with Nichols Kaster and Apollo Law, on behalf of the Impact Fund and a dozen other leading non-profits, detailed the many cases in which courts have properly exercised their authority to curtail defendants' improper conduct in lawsuits. For example, employers overreach when confronted by FLSA claims if they begin contacting alleged collective action members without providing them full and complete information about their rights, the lawsuit, and the employer's potentially adverse interests. In addition to describing the strong, historic protections for those asserting FLSA claims, and examples of employer practices that courts intervene to stop, the amicus brief details best practices to guide courts in ensuring robust protections for those bravely asserting wage claims.
Other organizations on the brief included @aaaj_alc @BetTzedek @CRLAFoundation @CDMigrante @centrolegal @EqualRightsAdv @kiwa4justice @LegalAidAtWork @NELA_HQ @Public_Justice @WorksafeCA @nelpnews
If you are seeking to assert wage claims and are facing an employer who seeks to retaliate or keep you and others from protecting your rights, contact Bryan@BryanSchwartzLaw.com.