While FLSA coverage—both so-called “enterprise” based coverage and individual coverage of a specific worker—remains broad, such coverage generally does not extend to individuals who do not work for a covered enterprise and do not “directly participate in the actual movement of persons or things in interstate commerce.” In reviewing a trial court decision, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently provided guidance as to the scope of individual coverage. This decision is important in many jurisdictions such as Florida, where numerous single plaintiff FLSA cases are filed against smaller employers who may not be subject to enterprise coverage. Pino v. Painted, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8831 (11th Cir. 2014).
In Pino, plaintiff worked for defendant’s local pleasure boat painting business. He never traveled outside of Florida, but worked on boats exclusively in south Florida. Plaintiff argued that some of the boats he painted were “destined for interstate commerce” and also had foreign registries. The Court ruled that Plaintiff’s painting was a “purely intrastate activity…[because] there is nothing about painting pleasure boats that directly moves the boats into interstate commerce.” The Court explained that the boats’ interstate nature “ended when the boats reached their ultimate consumer,” and that the mere painting of boats with foreign registries did not have the “close and immediate” connection with interstate commerce sufficient to trigger coverage.
Closely held, “local” businesses must analyze their status as employers under the FLSA, preferably before litigation is filed. Of course, at all time, the applicability of state law (to the extent there is a governing state wage-and-hour law) also should be considered.