Survey Shows Labor and Employment Claims On The Rise

The Los Angeles Daily Journal reports that corporate counsel who participated in a recent survey are seeing increases in a variety of employment related claims, especially: wage-and-hour disputes; labor union matters; discrimination cases based on alleged age, sex, gender, and disability, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act claims. According to the Daily Journal, "Wage-and-hour disputes remain the primary concern, with nearly half of survey respondents identifying worker classification and over-time claims as seeing the greatest spikes." Predictably, respondents attribute the increase in discrimination claims "due to the rising number of laid-off and fired workers who are suing their former employers."  

The good news is there are steps an employer can take to help reduce the likelihood of being sued and to help defend against a suit if one is brought.  Some of those steps include:

Having good written policies can make it more difficult for a plaintiff current or former employee to credibly contend the employer has a policy or practice of not complying with applicable laws and regulations. Such written policies can, among other things, make it more difficult for plaintiffs to obtain class certification. 

Properly documenting when non-exempt employees begin and end the workday, take rest periods, and take meal periods can make it more difficult for a plaintiff current or former employee to credibly contend the employer did not pay the employee for all hours worked, did not authorize and permit required rest periods, the employer did not provide all required unpaid meal periods, and/or did not provide accurate wage statements or "pay stubs," which are some of the most common claims we see.  

Having an enforceable arbitration agreement can help make an individual discrimination, harassment, or retaliation case less attractive to a plaintiff's attorney. Plaintiff's attorneys sometimes rely on the prospect of a jury trial to increase the value of such a case. 

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