Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk - The Collective Aspect of FLSA Collective Actions Has No Independent Legal Standing
By JEFFREY GRUBE & BLAKE BERTAGNA
Both sides of the bar had high hopes for the outcome of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, No. 11-1059 (Apr. 16, 2013), as to a specific issue — whether an unaccepted Rule 68 “offer of judgment” that would have fully satisfied the named plaintiff’s claims is sufficient by itself to moot a putative collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). In a 5-4 decision, however, the Court evaded resolving this particular circuit split on technical grounds. But the Court did resolve another split that should provide employers confidence in the proper disposition of FLSA collective actions in the event that the named plaintiff’s claim does become moot. The Supreme Court clarified that there can be no "headless class" in the context of the FLSA. An FLSA collective action without a plaintiff who has a live controversy is no case at all.