On October 2, 2016, Crain’s Detroit Business published an article (subscription req’d) discussing the impact of National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., a case involving the legality of requiring employees to forgo class action and collective action lawsuits in favor of binding, individual arbitration. Many believe the matter is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for final determination.
Sommers Schwartz senior shareholder Jason Thompson is one of the attorneys serving as lead counsel in a class action lawsuit involving call center agents employed by Kelly Services who claim the company has unlawfully withheld wages and overtime pay for “off the clock” work. Kelly has argued that the workers must submit to arbitration pursuant to agreements they have been required to sign since November 2014.
Mr. Thompson told Crain’s reporter Chad Halcom, “I suspect it (Murphy Oil) will lead to a binding ruling. The NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) preserves ‘concerted activity,’ which to me seems to include class actions and collective-action suits, and that’s precisely with this fight is.”
In August, Judge David Lawson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the Kelly employees cannot surrender their rights to file a class action lawsuit under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Although Kelly has appealed Judge Lawson’s ruling to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Thompson and others believe the Sixth Circuit judges will wait for the Supreme Court to render an opinion first.