11th Circuit Weighs in on Split Re Impact of Jury's Finding on Limitations Period Question in an FLSA Case

Per Perez v. Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club, Inc., --- F.3d ----, 2008 WL 220070 (11th Cir. Jan. 29, 2008):

We conclude, based on the reasoning and holdings of our Glenn and Castle decisions, that in an FLSA case a jury's finding in deciding the limitations period question that the employer acted willfully precludes the court from finding that the employer acted in good faith when it decides the liquidated damages question. Our conclusion puts us on what appears to be the majority side of the circuit split on this issue. Compare Singer v. City of Waco, Tex., 324 F.3d 813, 823 (5th Cir.2003) (affirming an award of liquidated damages where the jury had found that the defendant's violation of the FLSA was willful, because the defendant could not show it had acted in good faith), and Chao v. A-One Med. Servs., Inc., 346 F.3d 908, 920 (9th Cir.2003) (affirming an award of liquidated damages under the FLSA where there had been a finding of willfulness, and noting that “a finding of good faith is plainly inconsistent with a finding of willfulness”), and Herman v. Palo Group Foster Home, Inc., 183 F.3d 468, 474 (6th Cir.1999) (affirming a district court's award of liquidated damages for violations of the FLSA and concluding that “a finding of willfulness is dispositive of the liquidated-damages issue”), and Pollis v. New Sch. for Soc. Research, 132 F.3d 115, 120 (2d Cir.1997) (finding in an EPA case that an employer had acted willfully for purposes of the statute of limitations, “and the resulting compensatory award should be doubled pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act's liquidated damages provision” under 29 U.S.C. § 260), and Brinkman v. Dep't of Corr., 21 F.3d 370, 372 (10th Cir.1994) (determining that the district court “properly awarded liquidated damages based upon the jury's finding of willfulness” because “when fact issues central to a claim are decided by a jury upon evidence that would justify its conclusion, the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial prohibits the district court from reaching a contrary conclusion”), with Broadus v. O.K. Indus., Inc., 226 F.3d 937, 944 (8th Cir.2000) (noting in an EPA case that the “jury's decision on willfulness is distinct from the district judge's decision to award liquidated damages” (citation omitted)), and Fowler, 978 F.2d at 163 (determining in an EPA case that in light of “the explicit language of section 260, expressly vesting discretion to award liquidated damages in the hands of the trial judge ... Congressional intent would [not] be effectuated by a scheme in which, in every case, the trial court's discretion to award liquidated damages would be completely constrained by the jury's determination on ‘willfulness' for purposes of the statute of limitations”).


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