Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit addressed whether a buyer of assets outside of bankruptcy (in this case, from a receivership), takes on successor liability for federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") claims made by the employees of the company whose assets it purchases. Although the case arose in a receivership, the Seventh Circuit's opinion provides important insights into how these issues play out in bankruptcy sales of substantially all assets of a debtor.
Successor Liability Imposed. In Teed v. Thomas & Betts Power Solutions, L.L.C., the Seventh Circuit held that the buyer took on successor liability for the FLSA claims, even though the sale was made "free and clear" of all liabilities generally and of the FLSA claims in particular. The Seventh Circuit ruled that although those provisions would have protected the buyer, Thomas & Betts, under applicable Wisconsin state law, the FLSA is a federal statute and under federal common law, the buyer had successor liability for the FLSA claims. You can read a copy of the Seventh Circuit's opinion, issued March 26, 2013, by clicking on the link in this sentence.