Why Wage and Hour Claims Keep Rising

December 2, 2015

This was another historic year for federal wage and hour lawsuits.

Using data obtained from the Federal Judicial Center, law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP reported that 8,781 cases were filed in 2015 under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That total is up nearly eight percent from 2014 when FLSA 8,160 cases were filed.

There were 7,764 FLSA cases filed in 2013, up 10 percent from 2012.

Lawyers at Seyfarth Shaw say there are several factors behind the boom, which they see continuing through next year.

“New federal labor regulations, the fight for a minimum wage hikes and an intense focus on independent contractor classification and joint employer status create a perfect storm for new lawsuits,” said Richard Alfred, chair of Seyfarth’s Wage & Hour Litigation practice.

Alfred said increased attention on independent contractor classifications and joint employer status due to the Department of Labor’s July 2015 guidance that may make it harder for employers to use independent contractors will be one factor boosting claims, along with the National Labor Relations Board’s major decision this year that increases the risk that businesses will be held liable as joint employers.

Also, the surge of highly publicized lawsuits against Uber and other “on-demand” or “market” economy companies that challenge their independent contractor -based business model could also affect activity.

Alfred also expects wage and hour interest to rise due to the public debate over minimum wage and an apparent easing by some judges of standards for class certification in wage and hour lawsuits as captured by a case against Tyson Foods now before the Supreme Court.

Wage & Hour LawsuitsSource: Seyfarth Shaw LLP

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