Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court had the opportunity to address a split in the circuits regarding whether or not a Rule 68 offer of judgment to a named plaintiff in a FLSA collective action mooted a potential collective action. In Genesis Healthcare Corp., et al. v. Symczyk [pdf], the Supreme Court held that because the plaintiff had no personal interest in representing punitive, unnamed claimants, the suit was dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court assumed, without deciding, that the employer’s offer mooted the plaintiff’s individual claims.
While the Court’s decision is a step in the right direction for employers, it is not a nail in the coffin for wage and hour collective actions. While the Court decided that a collective action with a named plaintiff with moot claims cannot proceed, the circuits remain split as to whether an offer of judgment to a named plaintiff in a collective action moots his claim. Because the Supreme Court side-stepped the issue, employers in the Second and Sixth Circuit remain unable to moot wage and hour collective actions. Despite avoiding the issue, the Supreme Court upheld the possibility that offers of judgment can still be an effective tool for employers in most circuits.