Fischer v. Federal Express Corp.

Federal Express employee Christa Fischer filed a lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Her complaint alleged that FedEx had uniformly misclassified employees in her position (Security Specialists) as exempt from the FLSA, thereby denying overtime pay to which they were entitled. She sought to have the case proceed as a collective action on behalf of herself “and other employees similarly situated” who opted in to the suit, as provided for in section 216(b) of the FLSA.

FedEx moved to dismiss claims brought by out-of-state members of the collective action. Invoking the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court (2017), FedEx argued that the federal court in Pennsylvania lacked personal jurisdiction over it with respect to the claims of members of the collective action whose claims arose on other states. FedEx did not dispute that the named plaintiffs in the collective action could bring their own claims in that court. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the claims in the collective action as to any employees who did not work in Pennsylvania. The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Public Citizen filed a brief as amicus curiae in support of the workers. The brief explains that Bristol-Myers addresses due process limits on the powers of state courts that do not apply directly to federal courts. In addition, although the provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure dealing with service of process effectively incorporate some of the limits of the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause on state courts’ exercise of personal jurisdiction, the named plaintiff in this case, whose claims arose in Pennsylvania, had properly effected service on FedEx, and the Federal Rules do not require opt-in members separately to serve a summons and a complaint on FedEx.