Wage-and-Hour Lawsuits Continue to Rise
With a renewed federal emphasis on enforcing wage-and-hour laws and the growing intolerance of workers towards longer hours without a pay hike has lead to some disturbing statistics on employment litigation. For example, wage-and-hour lawsuits that have risen to the federal level increased by 15 percent between 2010 and 2011. In 2011, over 7,000 suits of this type, including a large number of class action, were filed in federal court.
The number of these lawsuits filed against employers since 2008 has increased by 32 percent, and since 2001 federal courts have experienced a 325 percent surge in
wage-and-hour legal claims. Converting these cases into dollars paid out by employers, the Department of Labor recovered $225 million in back wages 2011, up 28 percent over 2010.
The top reasons thought to explain the acceleration in this type of claims are believed to be:
- A consequence of budget restrains caused by the recent recession leading to more off-the-clock work
- Employees being improperly classified as exempt
- The rapid increase in implementation of mobile technology, such as smartphones, and the resultant increase of work impinging upon personal time
- Increasing difficulty in monitoring the number of work hours for employers working non-traditional hours
- The large increase in wage-and-hour investigators (300 over the past two years) employed by the Department of Labor, a 40 percent increase, to increase the enforcement of Fair Labor Standards Act requirements.