Can You Hear Me Now?
In order to obtain legal protection against retaliation when you complain to your employer, be certain your complaint is specific enough to allow the employer to investigate and take appropriate action. That’s the lesson of Shadduck v. United Parcel Service (attached). Even though the Supreme Court has allowed at least a degree of FLSA protection to internal complaints (see our earlier post (“Beware of Verbal Discrimination Complaints,” August 10, 2011)), communication skills are still important: it’s not enough that you know what you’re talking about if no one else does. And for employers, the cautions are still in play: even a vague complaint may be deemed sufficient, and you shouldn’t bank on finding a judge who agrees with your professed lack of understanding. Finding out the answer from a federal court isn’t a good business strategy, and finding out from a jury is even less so. After all, Mark Twain is claimed to have said the American jury system is the world’s best way of resolving disputes other than rolling dice.