In a case addressing coverage under the FLSA, Federal Judge Ramona V. Manglona from the District of the Northern Mariana Islands held coverage was not triggered merely because a cook in Saipan accessed the Internet to obtain recipes. Dean v. Pac. Bellwether, LLC, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15797 (D. N. Mar. I. Feb. 6, 2014).
“There is no movement of commerce here. [Plaintiff] searched for recipes on the Internet and downloaded them. She did not attempt to buy goods online. She did not attempt to sell goods online. She did not even attempt to contact people online. Lacking any actual or prospective movement of goods, the commerce requirement is not satisfied,” the Court held. Dean concerned the same fundamental question addressed by a Brooklyn judge last year regarding a tire repair shop in Queens, namely whether the limited credit card transaction processing activity engaged in by a predominately local employee constituted participation in “interstate commerce” sufficient to trigger individual coverage under the FLSA. The Court in that case held such activity also did not trigger coverage.
FLSA coverage remains broad notwithstanding the favorable holding in this case. As always, employers in every jurisdiction must analyze their business to determine FLSA and state law coverage and, if covered, regularly review compliance practices.