Fischer v. Federal Express Corp, No. 21-1683 (3d Cir. 2022)

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Justia Opinion Summary

Fischer, a Pennsylvania resident and former FedEx security specialist, brought a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Fischer alleged FedEx misclassified her and other security specialists as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime rule and underpaid them. Two former FedEx employees, Saunders, from Maryland, and Rakowsky, from New York, submitted notices of consent, seeking to join Fischer’s collective action. Saunders and Rakowsky both worked for FedEx in their home states but, other than FedEx’s allegedly uniform nationwide employment practices, have no connection to Pennsylvania related to their claims. The district court did not allow these opt-in plaintiffs to join the suit, reasoning that, as would be true for a state court, the district court lacked specific personal jurisdiction over FedEx with respect to their’ claims.

On interlocutory appeal, the Third Circuit noted a division among the circuits and held that in an FLSA collective action in federal court where the court lacks general personal jurisdiction over the defendant, all opt-in plaintiffs must establish specific personal jurisdiction over the defendant with respect to their individual claims. In this way, the specific personal jurisdiction analysis for an FLSA collective action in federal court operates the same as it would for an FLSA collective action, or any other traditional in personam suit, in state court. The out-of-state opt-in plaintiffs here cannot demonstrate their claims arise out of or relate to FedEx’s contacts with Pennsylvania.

Primary Holding
Third Circuit holds that in a federal court Fair Labor Standards Act collective action, where the court lacks general personal jurisdiction over the defendant, all opt-in plaintiffs must establish specific personal jurisdiction over the defendant with respect to their individual claims.

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