Addressing a divided body of law, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit — where numerous FLSA actions are brought particularly within the state of Florida — has ruled that a Florida district court did not err when it declined to award 100% FLSA liquidated damages to several plaintiffs who prevailed at a jury trial on their retaliation claim. Moore v. Appliance Direct, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 3047 (11th Cir. 2013).
In Moore, the Plaintiffs were independent contractors who alleged they were misclassified and thus deprived of premium overtime. They later asserted retaliation claims based on the conduct of a subcontractor for Defendant Appliance Direct whom they claimed denied them further work opportunities after they sought to recover overtime pay. In rejecting plaintiffs’ claim that liquidated damages were appropriate as a matter of law, on their retaliation claim, the appeals court noted distinctions in the statutory language relevant to the award of liquidated damages for retaliation, as compared with language providing for presumptive liquidated damages associated with overtime and minimum wage violations.
Allegations of retaliation as part of FLSA filings are commonplace. Employers must ensure caution is taken and risks assessed before taking employment actions impacting employees and others asserting FLSA claims.