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The Fifth Circuit Holds that a Spouse of an Employee May Not Make a Claim for Unlawful Retaliation Under the FLSA

I have discussed what I think is a more important aspect of Pineda here. However, the Fifth Circuit also held that a spouse of an employee may not bring a claim for unlawful retaliation under the FLSA.

This holding may seem head-slappingly obvious, but there was an argument to be made here. After all, in 2011, the United States Supreme Court held in Thompson v. N. Am. Stainless, LP, 562 U.S. 170, 178 (2011) that any person within "the zone of interests" that the statute protects may bring a claim for retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-3. Thus, in Thompson, for example, the Supreme Court held that the fiancée (or fiancé) of an employee may bring a retaliation claim under Title VII.

Ultimately, however, the argument in Pineda falls under the weight of the clear statutory language of the FLSA, which differs from the language of Title VII. Whereas Title VII specifically permits "a person claiming to be aggrieved" file a retaliation claim, the FLSA antiretaliation provision authorizes only an "employee" to bring a claim. Pineda, Slip op. at *8.

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