Wage-and-hour lawsuit wave to continue into 2014

Employment discrimination suits have lessened in number, but employers should be ready for an increase in wage-and-hour litigation

The bring-your-own-device trend that has slowly been adopted by enterprises and businesses on a global scale is of obvious benefit to companies, as workers can work remotely through mobile devices, but the off-the-clock hours could begin to come back and bite employers. A report titled the Workplace Class Action Litigation Report created for the tenth year in a row by Seyfarth Shaw L.L.P. cites the increased use of mobile devices as perhaps a bane for employers caught in labor litigation. 

While wage-and-hour litigation can be trite in practice, modern technologies keep it busy. The report forecasts that not only will wage-and-hour litigation continue strongly into 2014, but it could escalate in fervor and intensity. The argument surrounding paid time for use of mobile devices off the clock is just one aspect of new litigation tactics that could come into play.

Seyfarth's Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., co-chair of its Class Action Defense group and author of the Report stated, "In the past two years, we have seen a combination of Supreme Court decisions help create a defensive barrier for employers in class action cases. Enough time has passed, however, that plaintiff lawyers have begun to breach this barrier with new theories and approaches and, combined with increasing and aggressive government enforcement litigation, employers may once again find themselves facing bet-the-company-type class actions in 2014."

So, while the report describes the falling number of employment discrimination cases -- down to 12,311 from nearly 2,000 more than that in 2012 -- the wage-and-hour cases are likely to rise. 2013 already saw $248.45 million in settlements from wage-and-hour suits, so the report notes that employers should be at the ready for more lawsuits that claim either workers were not paid for work done, or they were underpaid as a result of miscategorization.

Perhaps employers should simply take the dose of advice given after 2013's rash of unpaid and low-paid interns; big name media companies including Condé Nast were involved in high-profile cases resulting in the termination of internship programs. If the report's projections flesh out, such cases will not be any less viral in 2014.

 

Further reading:

Labor: Try mediation for unpaid intern lawsuits

Google, Apple hit with antitrust labor suit

Labor suit against Akin Gump dismissed

 

Contributing Author

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Juliana Kenny

Juliana Kenny is a contributor to InsideCounsel.com, covering a range of topics including patent litigation, conflict mineral laws, executive compensation, and antitrust regulation. Juliana earned B.A.s...

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