The 10th Circuit Grants Re-leaf to Workers Looking for Overtime Beneath the FLSA


Appears like arguments searching for to dismiss FLSA wage claims beneath the guise that “cannabis is illegal beneath federal law” have gone up in smoke. The 10th circuit produced a buzz in Robert Kenney v. Helix TCS, Inc., Case No. 18-1105, by holding that cannabis market workers can claim overtime beneath the Federal Labor Requirements Act (“FLSA”).

The FLSA calls for employers to spend workers overtime if workers function much more than 40 hours in a workweek.

In Helix, Kenney—a safety worker in the cannabis industry—brought an action against his employer claiming that he was misclassified as exempt and sought inter alia overtime wages beneath the FLSA. Kenney argued that he and other co-workers routinely worked more than 40 hours per week but have been not compensated for any overtime in violation of the FLSA.

Helix moved to dismiss the action and argued that the FLSA did not apply simply because the marijuana market is thought of illicit beneath the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). Helix argues that permitting cannabis workers to acquire protections beneath the FLSA would “create a clear repugnancy” in between the FLSA and the CSA and “impermissibly render the two laws mutually inconsistent.” The district court denied the Motion to Dismiss, and the Appellate Court affirmed.

The Appellate Court retorted that “‘case law is clear that employers are not excused from complying with federal laws’ simply because of their other federal violations.” The court noted that a locating that pot workers are covered by the FLSA is in line with “both the plain reading and the general objective of the statute, and performing so does not demand disavowal of the CSA” simply because congress has amended the CSA quite a few occasions given that the enactment of the CSA “without excluding workers functioning in the marijuana market.” The court also held that each statutes seek to discourage providers from searching for an unfair benefit more than reputable employers and, therefore, cannabis workers “are not categorically excluded from FLSA protections.”

Why is this essential? Effectively, cannabis employers governed by the FLSA, will either have to have to schedule workers so that they do not function much more than 40 hours in a workweek or spend workers overtime unless employers want to be subjected to a lawsuit. Furthermore, cannabis employers in California, will have to take other precautions simply because California’s labor laws demand employers to compensate workers who function: (1) much more than eight hours in a function day, and (two) much more than 40 hours in a workweek. For much more details with regards to no matter whether your company’s practices comply with each State and Federal law, please make contact with the author.


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