FedEx workers search to protect collective-action lawsuits over wages

Petitions of the week
A courier drops off a package at the Supreme Court

The Petitions of the Week column highlights a number of cert petitions just lately filed within the Supreme Courtroom. An inventory of all petitions we’re watching is offered right here.

5 years in the past, the justices in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Courtroom of California restricted sure personal-injury lawsuits in opposition to companies to residents of a single state. Since that 2017 choice, companies have satisfied state courts to cabin a bunch of lawsuits introduced by out-of-state plaintiffs over out-of-state conduct. This week, we spotlight cert petitions that ask the courtroom to contemplate, amongst different issues, whether or not Bristol-Myers Squibb additionally bars a federal courtroom in a single state from listening to collective-action claims in opposition to FedEx by workers in one other state.

Christina Fischer labored as a FedEx “safety specialist” in Pennsylvania for 10 years. Staff in Fischer’s function often labored greater than 40 hours per week, however are categorised by the transport provider as salaried workers exempt from additional time pay beneath the Honest Labor Normal Act of 1938. Arguing that she was ineligible for the Act’s additional time exemption, Fischer filed an FLSA collective motion in federal district courtroom in Pennsylvania searching for unpaid additional time from FedEx. Two safety specialists in different states “opted in” to the collective motion.

The district courtroom agreed with FedEx that it solely had authority, generally known as particular private jurisdiction, to listen to Fischer’s declare. The U.S. Courtroom of Appeals for the third Circuit affirmed. FedEx shouldn’t be headquartered in Pennsylvania, and the safety specialists in different states weren’t suing for unpaid additional time associated to any Pennsylvania enterprise exercise. Below Bristol-Myers Squibb, the appeals courtroom reasoned, the district courtroom solely had jurisdiction to listen to the portion of the collective motion introduced by Fischer – or some other FedEx safety specialists in Pennsylvania.

In Fischer v. Federal Specific Corp., the workers urge the courtroom to reinstate their collective motion in opposition to the transport provider. Bristol-Myers Squib left open the query whether or not its holding applies to federal courts. The third Circuit’s conclusion that it does, the workers argue, not solely contravenes longstanding federalism and due-process doctrines that make investments state courts with a lot narrower private jurisdiction than federal courts. It additionally guts the important thing enforcement mechanism – collective actions – that Congress granted to workers beneath the FLSA.

An inventory of this week’s featured petitions is under:

Olhausen v. Arriva Medical, LLC
Difficulty: Whether or not a False Claims Act defendant alleged to have “knowingly” violated a provision of federal legislation can escape legal responsibility by articulating, after the very fact, an objectively cheap interpretation of the supply beneath which its conduct would have been lawful.

Keister v. Bell
Points: (1) Whether or not the U.S. Courtroom of Appeals for the eleventh Circuit erred in counting on the federal government’s (or its delegee’s) intent to control speech in figuring out that public sidewalks adjoining to authorities buildings are usually not conventional public boards, in battle with choices by this courtroom and quite a few circuits; and (2) whether or not the standing of a public sidewalk as a protected conventional public discussion board ought to be decided by the textual content, historical past and custom of the First Modification reasonably than by an indeterminate multi-factor balancing check.

Fischer v. Federal Specific Corp.
Difficulty: Whether or not a federal courtroom has the authority, absent basic private jurisdiction over the defendant or the defendant’s consent, to keep up a Honest Labor Requirements Act collective motion that features opt-in plaintiffs who labored for the defendant outdoors the state the place the courtroom is situated.

Ferrarini v. Irgit
Difficulty: Whether or not the U.S. Courtroom of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit’s judge-made, laches-like, possession claim-accrual check applies to bar a copyright infringement go well with introduced inside the three-year look-back interval prescribed by Congress in 17 U.S.C. § 507(b).

[Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to SCOTUSblog in various capacities, was among counsel to respondent in Bristol Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California.]

Correction (Nov. 11 at 6:10 p.m.): An earlier model of this text misstated the character of the lawsuit in Fischer v. Federal Specific Corp. It’s a collective motion, not a category motion.