Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., 137 S. Ct. 1773, limiting the scope of a court’s jurisdiction over out-of-state claims, federal courts have grappled with whether the landmark opinion applies to collective actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
Joining two other circuits, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that Bristol-Myers does apply to FLSA collective actions, and therefore, federal courts may not exercise jurisdiction over claims of out-of-state opt-in plaintiffs in putative collective actions, other than in the states in which the employer has its principal place of business or is incorporated. Fischer v. Federal Express Corp., No. 21-1683 (3d Cir. July 26, 2022).
The current circuit split now solidly favors employers, with three appellate courts concluding that Bristol-Myers applies in the FLSA context, limiting employees’ ability to pursue massive nationwide wage suits to the state where the employer is incorporated or has its principal place of business.
However, Bristol-Myers jurisdictional principles do not apply to Rule 23 class actions, the Third Circuit found, agreeing with its sister circuits that class actions are different.
Read about the recent decision here.