No End in Sight To Wage-And-Hour Class Actions, Law Firm Reports
Wage-and-hour litigation remains the fastest-growing area of employment litigation, according to the law firm Crowell & Moring.
According to a 2011 NERA Economic Consulting study, employers paid an average of $5.8 million to settle a wage-and-hour case.
There is some evidence that such settlement amounts have declined somewhat in recent years. However, the average employer liability in wage-and-hour cases continues to far exceed liability in other employment cases, according to Crowell & Moring.
There is every reason to believe that wage-and-hour litigation will continue and even outpace most other forms of employment litigation.
Some of this will be due to uncertainty: in misclassification cases, the question of whether an employee is an exempt or non-exempt employee requires a detailed, qualitative analysis, and the answer is often not straightforward. In addition, technology and decentralized business operations have made monitoring employee work time more difficult than ever, making employers more vulnerable to overtime and “off-the-clock” claims.
“A key challenge employers face in those cases is how to handle the problem of the eager, nonexempt employee who performs work functions after hours remotely,” says Tom Gies, a partner at Crowell & Moring. “While strong workplace policies and periodic audits are part of the solution, they unfortunately are not a panacea.
RECENT KEY WAGE-AND-HOUR CASES
Rodriguez V. Brink’s
The L.A. Superior Court turned down a statewide certification motion to compensate more than 3,500 hourly employees for time spent on the premises prior to their scheduled start time, finding a predominance of individual over common issues.
Langer V. Dewolff Boberg & Associates
In a trial in federal court in Dallas, a jury decided against plaintiffs in a collective action filed by a class of management consultants who claimed their position was misclassified as exempt from the overtime pay requirements of the FLSA.
Christopher V. Smithkline Beecham
In June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that two pharmaceutical sales representatives were “outside salesmen,” and thus exempt from federal law requiring overtime wages.
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