The Supreme Court Addresses Offers of Judgment in the Context of Collective Actions

In Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symcyk, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of 5 to 4, rejected an employee’s contention that her employer should not have been permitted to thwart her attempt to bring a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by making an offer of judgment to her under Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that included all of the relief to which she would have been entitled in connection with her individual FLSA claim. The Court’s April 16, 2013, ruling provides encouragement to employers who may seek to block an FLSA collective action with an offer of judgment–although, as detailed below, the Court’s opinion did leave one issue unresolved. The Court’s opinion also applies to cases brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”), as both of those statutes are governed by the collective action procedures of the FLSA rather than by the class action procedures of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.