Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 9:13 AM

Spreading the Retaliation Net

We have warned about the expansive view taken by some courts in treating an informal internal wage-hour complaint as a trigger for retaliation protection. You can now add another wrinkle to the fabric: In Cole v. Green Mountain Landscaping Inc. (D.Vt. No. 2:09CV5, 7/22/09), the court found that a complaint filed with a state agency "was related to" the Fair Labor Standards Act even though there was no mention in it of the federal law, thereby rendering a post-complaint firing sufficiently suspect that the employer's motion to dismiss was denied. The employee's written state claim, alleging denial of overtime pay and accrued vacation, was deemed entitled to greater status than informal complaints.

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