A recent report from law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP forecasts that class action lawsuits claiming violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act will soar to record levels this year.
Litigation in this area has increased by more than 450% since 2000, which is seen as the result of minimum wage increases in many states and municipalities, an increased focus on independent contractor classification, joint liability in situations where there may be more than one employer. Additionally, the United States Department of Labor has taken a firm stance on wage theft, making examples of companies that attempt to circumvent federal employment laws.
Most FLSA actions are filed as collective actions, and the first step is to certify the class of similarly situated plaintiffs for notification purposes. In 2015, federal and state courts granted initial class status in 75% of the cases seeking such certification.
At the second stage of a class action, the courts determine whether the class members and the lead plaintiffs have enough in common to remain a class. In 2015, 64% of the classes remained intact, up from 52% in 2014.
Class actions in the wage and hour arena have produced significant outcomes for the plaintiffs. Last year the top FLSA settlements surpassed $2.5 billion.
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group handle all types of employment and labor actions, and are especially knowledgeable about minimum wage, overtime, and equal pay issues. If you have questions regarding any employment matter, please contact us today.