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After a recent Eleventh Circuit decision in Asalde v. First Class Parking Systems LLC 894 F.3d 1248 (11th Cir. 2018), more employers are subject to the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). In Asalde, Plaintiffs were valet car drivers who sued their employer alleging violations of the FLSA. The trial court granted summary judgment for the employer, reasoning that because parking cars in Florida is a local activity, there is no interstate commerce and, therefore, no FLSA coverage.
The Eleventh Circuit, however, reversed the trial court’s decision and held that a jury may find that the uniforms the drivers wore, which were manufactured outside the State of Florida, may be construed as “materials” under the FLSA’s “handling clause”.
Application of the FLSA is triggered in one of two ways: (1) where an employee is engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce (i.e., “individual coverage”) or (2) where an employee works for an “enterprise” engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce (i.e., “enterprise coverage”). Under what is referred to as the “handling clause,” an entity is subject to “enterprise coverage” if it has “employees handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for commerce by any person.”
To be “materials,” an item must (1) be necessary for doing or making something, and (2) must have a significant connection with the employer’s commercial activity. While the Eleventh Circuit acknowledged that uniforms are not necessary to park cars, it asserted that the uniforms offered a way for customers to identify the valet and enables them to provide a service. As such, the Eleventh Circuit held that a reasonable jury could find that the plaintiff’s uniforms are handled “materials” under the FLSA.The Eleventh Circuit’s decision is a blow to small, local employers, who have been able to avoid the FLSA’s application to them because these businesses are not engaged in “commerce”. Small, local employers should carefully determine whether uniforms or other materials being used by its employees are necessary for the employer’s commercial activities to ensure the FLSA does not apply to the employer.