In Randolph v. ADT Security Services, Inc., Judge Chasanow from the District Court of Maryland granted The Employment Law Group® clients and former ADT Security employees’ Motion for Summary Judgment as to liability against their former employer. ADT had terminated two commissioned salespeople because they complained to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) that they believed they should be paid for overtime.
In filing their complaint alleging a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the ADT employees complied with requests from the DLLR to attach allegedly employer and client confidential information. ADT argued that the employees were lawfully fired because they were not authorized to disseminate confidential information. ADT also argued that the employees should not receive protection under the FLSA on the theory that attachments and supporting documents are not part of FLSA complaints.
Noting it would seem contrary to the purposes of the FLSA to punish employees for complying with the instructions they receive from the DLLR, the court granted Summary Judgment in favor of the employees, stating:
Perversely, ADT’s position would result in a situation wherein employees with the most supporting evidence would also face the greatest risk of dismissal. As a result, enforcement agencies would be less able to undertake early assessments of employees’ claims, as employees could not be expected to provide much evidence on their own (for fear of exposing themselves to termination). Employers would then have to face greater government intrusions into their business while the complaint was investigated; because of the lack of early information, these investigations would likely last longer. Meanwhile, employers would have an incentive to cull through every document attached to an FLSA complaint, looking for any violation of company policy in an effort to forestall expensive litigation.
More problematically, they could simply choose to impair the ability of employees to make claims at all by dubbing all possible supporting documentation “confidential.” Such a situation would grossly undermine enforcement of the FLSA, which hinges upon “information and complaints received from employees” (citation omitted). The FLSA antiretaliation is about the free sharing of information and a narrow view of complaint would hamstring that fundamental purpose.
The court held that the common dictionary definition of “complaint” and its use in standard civil litigation “embraces attached supporting documentation.” The court further ruled that unlike in “opposition” cases (employees oppose wrongdoing) the law controlling “participation” cases (employees participate in an investigation) permits employees to disclose confidential information to investigators even when done unreasonably.
The court concluded:
ADT’s explicit admissions that Plaintiffs lost their jobs because of the filings with the DLLR mandate only one conclusion: ADT retaliated against Plaintiffs because they engaged in a protected activity. Summary judgement must therefore be granted for the Plaintiffs on count one of the complaint on the issue of liability.
- Kinder Morgan Employees Receive $830,000 in Unpaid Overtime Settlement (unpaidovertimeblog.com)