Workplace class action settlements ballooned to $2.72B in 2017, report says
- Seyfarth Shaw LLP's 14th annual "Workplace Class Action Litigation Report" recorded 1,408 class action rulings in 2017 — a record, according to a statement — with wage and hour settlements alone reaching a combined $1.2 billion.
- The report spotlights four class action trends for 2018: 1) Rising settlement costs, which soared to a record-high $2.72 billion last year; 2) More decertification wins for employers, who won 63% of wage and hour decertification rulings last year, up nearly 20% from 2016; 3) More roll backs in government enforcement by the Trump administration; and 4) More employer-friendly U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
- The firm's analysis pointed to three "game-changer" rulings in favor of employers in 2017: EEOC v. McLane Co.; Microsoft v. Baker; and Bristol-Myers v. Superior Court.
The figures on wage and hour cases are particularly jarring for employers, but they explain why this area of employment law has rated particularly high on the list of concerns among both HR professionals and their in-house counsel.
The good news, for those in charge of compliance, is that the Trump administration is so far maneuvering to update wage and hour requirements around joint employment, worker classification and overtime, according to observers. As the administration begins its second year, it's likely to keep rolling back Obama-era rules.
Considering the Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court, employers and their advocates are hopeful they'll have the Court's support on several employment issues this year. The court recently declined to weigh in on the joint-employer liability debate, however, allowing a controversial circuit court decision to stand.