The Arkansas Supreme Court recently answered a certified question from the United States District Court seeking a determination of the statute of limitations for violations of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA). The question is an important one because the statute on the AMWA does not have an express statute of limitations.
In Douglas v. First Student, Inc, Petitioners, who were all employed by Respondent as public school bus drivers or dispatchers, claimed that Respondent failed to compensate them for regular and overtime wages in weeks in which they worked more than forty hours. Petitioners filed a class-action complaint in federal district court, alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act. Respondents opposed Petitioners' motion to amend their complaint, contending the amendment would be futile because Petitioners' AMWA claims were barred by the three-year statute of limitations set forth in Ark. Code Ann. 16-56-105.
Justice Gunter, writing for the Court, stated that the issue is: What is the appropriate statute of limitations for a private cause of action pursuant to A.C.A. §11-4-218(e)? The Arkansas Supreme Court determined that a three-year statute of limitations would apply to private causes of action brought pursuant to AMWA.
The Court revisited its holding in Miller Brewing Co. v. Roleson to clarify that the application of a five-year statute of limitations period in that case was appropriate only because two conflicting limitation periods applied. Where two or more limitations period apply to a cause of action, the statute with the longest limitation period will be applied as a general rule.
Bottom line: A three-year statute of limitations will apply to private causes of action brought pursuant to AMWA.