No reason for federal district court not to decide NY wage claim

Federal judges are hard working. They point to dockets that overflow and read volumes of motions, exhibits, and legal precedent. Although they are not the highest paid among the legal profession, most truly love the law and want to do the right thing. Every once in a while our 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals tells a trial level judge to do more. This is one of those cases.

Federal courts usually apply federal laws. They are not required to interpret state laws unless they have to. It’s called supplemental jurisdiction when a federal court agrees to interpret and decide state law. That includes New York’s Labor Law.

The federal district court judge thought this case belonged in state court. The case was dismissed. On appeal, the appellate court examined what happened. It found that the parties did not have lots of money. Were the case dismissed everyone would begin over in state court which would cost more money. The appellate court said that the trial court judge should have heard the parties arguments before dismissing the case. It sent the case back to the federal district court judge.

This case deals with much more than wage and hour laws. It deals with people who are the law. It reminds us that our federal courts exist to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding. It’s a sign of hope. It reminds us that courts should be places where parties come to have their disputes addressed and not dismissed for what many might call a technicality. Thank you!

Federal district court not just for FLSA
Federal courts decide New York Labor Law claims