Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk: FLSA Collective Action May Be Mooted by Full Offer of Judgment

Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, No. 11-1059. In a 5-4 decision, Justice Thomas wrote for a majority of the Court that a named plaintiff in a collective action could be “picked off” when she failed to accept a full offer of judgment.

Laura Symczyk worked in a nursing home owned by Genesis Healthcare. She sued Genesis in a collective action for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), alleging that Genesis had failed to pay her for 30 minutes of meal breaks when she had not actually taken all or some of the break. Genesis answered the complaint and made a Rule 68 offer of judgment, offering to satisfy all of Symczyk’s claims for $7,500 in unpaid wages, plus attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses. She did not accept the offer.

Therefore, Genesis moved to dismiss the suit on the basis that Symczyk no longer had a “personal stake” in the outcome, as she had been offered all the relief she was seeking. Symczyk conceded her claim had been satisfied, but argued her suit was still justiciable based on the collective action allegations in her complaint. The district court disagreed and granted Genesis’ motion to dismiss. 

But the Third Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that while Symczyk’s personal claim was mooted, the use of offers of judgment before class certification could “short-circuit the class action process” and “prevent a putative representative from reaching the certification stage.”

For more, read the full story.

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