The Sixth Circuit & Bristol-Myers Squibb – What’s in Store for the Future of Collective Actions?
By Robert Morelli
August 9, 2021
With Canaday v. The Anthem Companies, Inc., Case No. 20-5947, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is set to answer a question that has plagued federal courts in recent years: Does the Supreme Court’s decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court mean that courts cannot assert jurisdiction over out-of-state plaintiffs’ claims in a collective-action because they do not arise out of or relate to employer-defendants’ contacts with the forum state? The Court held oral arguments on June 10, 2021.
This is a question of first impression for any Federal appellate court. Most federal district courts have answered this question in the affirmative. However, there remains a healthy number of decisions finding that the FLSA’s collective action provisions are not affected by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court. See, e.g., Hammond v. Floor & Decor Outlets of Am., Inc., No. 3:19-cv-01099, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84203 (M.D. Tenn. May 13, 2020).
A decision from the Sixth Circuit finding Bristol-Myers applicable to the FLSA would provide multi-state employers with a procedural tool to limit nationwide collective actions. On the other hand, workers’ attorneys are likely to use such a decision as a weapon and employ small-scale, limited “state-wide” classes to circumvent the Bristol-Myers holding. This can be vastly more costly for an employer to defend. As such, employers need to think carefully about whether Bristol-Myers offers the reprieve it may seem to at first glance.
If you are facing wage and hour claims or need assistance with other employment matters, please contact us at (901) 754-8001.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice. Receipt of or viewing information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. You may contact our firm to establish such a relationship, but in any event, please consult an attorney or tax professional of your choosing for advice on this or any other legal topic.