Paul says he has no idea how the case will come out. The issue is whether as the 7th Circuit says, only written complaints, not oral ones, qualify as protected activity under the FLSA. I think Paul may just being nice.
Consider the following posts on how retaliation has fared in the Supreme Court since the birth of this blog in July 2002.
- Supreme Court Unaminous in Retaliation Case, Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville (S.Ct. 1/26/09).
- Supreme Court Scoreboard: Retaliation 2, Employers 0, CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphrey (S.Ct. 5/27/08) and Gomez v. Potter (S.Ct. 5/27/08).
- Supreme Court Answers the Question: What Is An Adverse Employment Action? , Burlington Northern Railway v. White (S.Ct. 6/22/06)
- Whistleblowing in the Supreme Court, A Good Day, Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education (U.S. 3/29/05).
That's the view of another Paul, Paul Mollica, at Daily Developments in EEO Law.
But left out of the Supreme Court record above is Justice Thomas' decision in Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District v. United States ex. rel. Wilson (U.S. 6/20/05) (see No Federal Statute of Limitations for Retaliation Claims Brought Under Qui Tam Act.) That just happened to be a case that turned on statutory construction.If the Court follows its own in lead in its unanimous decision from last term, Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 129 S. Ct. 846 (2009), it will give the statute a common-sense construction that safeguards employees' rights to inquire or complaint about wage-and-hour violations. A decision affirming the Seventh Circuit's construction, though seemingly unlikely, would reverberate in all federal-law retaliation cases.
And the rest of Professor Secunda's sentence refusing to predict the outcome finishes, "but the decision may be an interesting example of how different Justices engage in the exercise of statutory construction."
So the decision may be more up in the air than I would initially think.
But I doubt it.
Update (3.25.10): For a little more factual background on the case itself check out the article in Corporate Counsel, Sooo, Just Keep My Mouth Shut: Can Workers Only Complain in Writing?