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Supreme Court grapples with verbal v. written complaints

WASHINGTON — If an employee tells a supervisor of a potentially illegal act, can that be considered filing a complaint?

The Supreme Court grappled with that question Wednesday in the firing of Kevin Kasten.

Kasten complained to Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics that the time clocks were placed in an illegal location. The company fired him, and then moved the clocks.

Kasten says he was fired because he spoke up, and said he should get retaliation protection. But the company says to get protection someone has to “file” a complaint, which they say means putting it down on paper.

The lower courts have agreed, but Kasten’s lawyer argued that means non-English speakers or illiterates would have no retaliation protection from crooked employers.