Court rejects FedEx's attempt to wipe out employee statutory rights by means of six-month statute of limitations
FedEx is notorious for its disrespect of workers' rights. In the latest reported decision, the Sixth Circuit unanimously rejected FedEx's attempt to extinguish employee's Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act rights by means of a clause in its hiring policies stipulating to a six-month statute of limitations. Margaret Boaz sued her employer of nearly twenty years after she lost patience with its failure to pay her the same salary that it paid the man whose job duties she assumed. She sought pay equal to the guy and also sought overtime which she claimed she was entitled to under the law.
FedEx argued that since she had worked for years without filing suit, her claim was "time-barred" by her "employment agreement" that required her to sue within six months of any wrong by FedEx. The trial judge dismissed Boaz's complaint but the Sixth Circuit reversed. It pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has firmly held that employees cannot "waive" federal statutory rights arising under these statutes in advance. It pointed out that there was substantial foundation for these rulings and that recognizing FedEx's argument would "nullify" the acts by granting competitive advantage to employers who fail to comply or discriminate.Disgustingly, QuickenLoans filed an amicus brief supporting FedEx's position, but the high court wasn't buying. The employers' argument that Boaz "should be entitled to shorten the statute of limitations" protecting her employer from its illegal actions was recognized as nonsense. While an employee may be free to agree to arbitrate such disputes, any substituted venue or procedure must "allow for the effective vindication of [the statutorily-granted employee's] claim." FedEx's unilateral edict--hardly bargained for--"does the opposite."
The Court also pointed out that FedEx could not require employees to exempt themselves from the FLSA by requiring that they sign a form indicating that they were employed in an [exempt] "executive, administrative, or professional capacity." The application or exemption of particular jobs from the statute was and is a question for the Court.