Numerous state wage laws provide for limitations periods longer than the maximum three years provided under federal law (such as six years under the New York Labor Law). Some state statutes fail to address the issue, giving rise to litigation over how far back a plaintiff can go on his or her minimum wage, overtime or other wage claims. In a unanimous decision issued late last week, the Arkansas Supreme Court held that the limitations period for overtime claims under the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act is three years, not five as urged by Plaintiffs.  The issue had been certified by a federal district judge to the state’s highest court.  Douglas v. First Student, Inc., 2011 Ark. 172 (Ark. 2011). The Douglas action is being defended by a Jackson Lewis team consisting of wage-and-hour specialists Steve Munger, Skip Smith and Justin Barnes

 “We have traditionally applied a three-year statute of limitations to actions arising under a liability that is imposed by statute,” observed Associate Justice Jim Gunter, who authored the opinion. “[We] hold that a three-year statute of limitations would apply to private cause of action brought pursuant to the [Arkansas Minimum Wage Act].” Douglas v. First Student, Inc., Supreme Court Case No. 11-361 (Order Nov. 3, 2011). In so holding, the Court rejected plaintiffs’ argument, based on earlier Arkansas precedent, that a five-year “catch-all” statute of limitations should apply, because in Douglas any liability was created expressly by statute, as opposed to a blend of statutory and contractual claims. 

This ruling in Douglas constitutes a victory for Arkansas employers, harmonizing the statute of limitations for actions under state law with the FLSA’s three years. The vagaries and unanswered questions of many state wage laws continue to trip up employers, especially those with multi-state operations.

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Photo of Noel P. Tripp Noel P. Tripp

Noel Tripp is a Principal in the Long Island office of Jackson Lewis P.C., one of the largest law firms in the United States devoted exclusively to representing management in labor and employment matters. Since joining Jackson Lewis P.C. as a summer associate…

Noel Tripp is a Principal in the Long Island office of Jackson Lewis P.C., one of the largest law firms in the United States devoted exclusively to representing management in labor and employment matters. Since joining Jackson Lewis P.C. as a summer associate in May 2005, he has practiced exclusively in employment law and has been involved in matters pending before federal and state courts and administrative agencies covering the gamut of employment-related matters from discrimination and workplace harassment to wage/hour disputes and affirmative-action compliance. His principle focus is the defense of class and collective action lawsuits under federal and state wage-and-hour laws.

Mr. Tripp is a graduate of Dartmouth College (A.B. 1999), and Fordham Law School (J.D. 2006). Prior to attending law school, Mr. Tripp was a complex commercial litigation paralegal at a large national law firm in Los Angeles, California. He is admitted to practice in the state of New York.

Education

  • Fordham University, J.D., 2006
  • Dartmouth College, A.B., 1999

Admitted to Practice

  • New York, 2007
  • New York – E.D. N.Y., 2008
  • New York – S.D. N.Y., 2008