This is based on a recent annual report published by Chicago-based law firm, Seyfarth Shaw, which has a sizable employment-law practice. According to the firm’s 12th annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, wage-and-hour suit settlements doubled last year, and Seyfarth partner Gerald Maatman expects more of the same in the year ahead.
According to Maatman, corporate exposure is at a high level, and plaintiffs are taking advantage of this seeming vulnerability by securing class-action certification and winning multi-million-dollar settlements for their employee clients. The hot-button areas to watch in legal and compliance circles: wage-and-hour suits, including claims related to overtime, bonuses and commissions, and definitions of what constitutes an independent contractor.
Adding to the mix are local minimum-wage legislation and legal challenges seeking to clarify the exact parameters of what is considered a joint employer. Employment discrimination suit settlements reached a 10-year high in 2015, but class-action certification for them is less of a slam dunk.