In a putative collective action, Laura Symczyk alleged that Genesis HealthCare Corporation violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by automatically deducting break time from her and other employees’ pay, regardless of whether they performed compensable work during their breaks. Before any other plaintiffs joined the action, Genesis made an offer of judgment for full relief of Symczyk’s claims. Symczyk did not accept the offer, but the district court dismissed the case because the offer of judgment left Symczyk without a personal stake in the litigation. Symczyk argues that she continues to have a personal stake and that the interests of plaintiffs yet to join the action creates jurisdiction. Genesis argues that a complete offer to satisfy a lone plaintiff’s claim renders the case moot. In resolving the question presented, the Supreme Court will decide whether an unaccepted offer of judgment can render a case moot and whether courts may consider the interests of unnamed, hypothetical parties in determining whether the parties have a personal stake in the litigation. The decision will affect collective-action trial practices for both plaintiffs and defendants, including plaintiffs’ use of the discovery process to join class members and defendants’ use of individual offers of judgment to forestall or avoid collective actions.
Does a purported collective action become moot, and thus beyond the judicial power of Article III, when the lone plaintiff in the case receives a complete offer of judgment from the defendants and all other potential plaintiffs have not yet joined the case?
- Huffington Post, Christina Wilkie: Employee Rights To Fight Workplace Abuse Raised In 2 Supreme Court Cases (Oct. 3, 2012)
- Human Resource Executive Online, Tom Starner: U.S. Supreme Court's HR Docket (Oct. 17, 2012)
- Wex: “Moot”
- Wex: “Standing”