Remember Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., the labor dispute that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court last fall? The decision is in -- Kasten won. For those who don't recall, Kevin Kasten worked in Saint-Gobain's Portage, Wis., plant until he was suspended, and then fired, for failing to follow the company's policy for punching in on a time clock. Kasten's suit alleged that he was discharged in retaliation for making oral complaints to his superiors that the placement of time clocks violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. He claimed that the location of the clocks prevented employees from being paid for time spent putting on and taking off their required protective gear. The Supreme Court's decision centered on whether Kasten's oral complaints were sufficient to protect him from being fired. The court ruled (PDF warning) that it was. "Why would Congress want to limit the enforcement scheme's effectiveness by inhibiting use of the act's complaint procedure by those who would find it difficult to reduce their complaints to writing, particularly illiterate, less educated, or overworked workers?" Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. The case is getting a lot of attention and press coverage today -- probably because the court ruling was not unanimous. (You learn that in Journalism 101 -- "Conflict makes for better stories"). Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented from the majority, arguing that the complaint needed to be filed with a court or government agency in order for the Fair Labor Standards Act to cover the employee.
Employee wins Supreme Court case against plastics firm
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