FLSA Lawsuits Hit Record High
Lawsuits filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which have increased every year for the past seven years, have jumped nearly 5% this year.
The FLSA is the most general federal labor law, covering a wide range of issues, including minimum wage provisions, the Equal Pay Act, child labor restrictions, and other labor and employment law provisions. Many FLSA cases center on disputes about overtime pay, or pay for other work that is off the clock.
According the law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP, the number of wage and hour lawsuits is up significantly again this year. Using data from the Federal Judicial Center, Seyfarth said that over the 12-month period preceding March 31, the number of lawsuits increased to 8,126, up 4.7% over the previous 12-month period. Over 10 years, the number of such cases has increased 237%, the law firm said.
“The wage-and-hour litigation epidemic continues, and we expect this trend to expand further in the coming year,” said Richard Alfred, chair of Seyfarth’s Wage & Hour Litigation practice. “While the rise we’ve seen in FLSA cases is astonishing, these numbers are also just one part of the equation. They would be even higher if wage-and-hour lawsuits filed in state courts under state pay practices, data which isn’t readily available, were added.”
The firm says there are many reasons for this trend, including the fact that the FLSA is an old law that was designed for a different economy, ambiguous language in the act defining its terms, increased awareness among employees about litigating under the act, and increased activity by law firms who, according to the Seyfarth blog, “have found wage-and-hour claims to be fertile ground for large fee recoveries.”
Alfred said that FLSA lawsuits are likely to continue to rise over the next 12 months, thanks to a combination of factors that include:
The tightening of the federal standards for class certification under FLSA, which has driven plaintiffs’ attorneys to file many single and multi-plaintiff lawsuits if and when class certification is denied or a class is decertified.
The increased focus on wage-and-hour laws and the availability of overtime pay, due to growing attention to the issue of raising the minimum wage.
President Obama’s recent directive to the Department of Labor to revise the regulations on white collar exemptions to FLSA. Alfred said this move has caused employees to pay more attention to wage-and-hour policies and practices.
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