Employees who file overtime claims are protected from retaliation by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA contains an anti-retaliation provision that states: “it is unlawful for any person … to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted any or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act, or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding.”
The penalties for retaliation are severe. An employer who retaliates or discriminates against an employee in violation of the FLSA can be subject to fines or even criminal prosecution by the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, the employee has the legal right to file a lawsuit seeking reinstatement to their job, the payment of lost wages, liquidated (double) damages, plus attorneys’ fees and court costs. Punitive damages are available in appropriate cases, and “anti-retaliation” lawsuits can be filed against individual supervisors as well as corporate employers. In addition to “firing” cases, retaliation has been found when employers assigned employees to unpopular job duties or shifts, blacklisted employees who made FLSA claims, refused to hire applicants who had made FLSA claims at other jobs, reduced job responsibilities, disciplined employees more severely, provided poor performance evaluations, and refused to provide raises.