Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report: Employment Discrimination Litigation and Eeoc Pattern or Practice Rulings

Article excerpt

Seyfarth Shaw LLP is pleased to offer readers of the Labor Law Journal an excerpt from the 2007 Edition of Seyfarth Shaw's Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, featuring significant federal employment discrimination class action and EEOC pattern or practice rulings. A copy of the full report is available by contacting gmaatman@seyfarth.com.

Our Annual Report analyzes the leading class action and collective action decisions of 2006 involving claims against employers brought in federal courts under Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 ("Title VII"), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), and a host of other federal statutes applicable to workplace issues. The Report also analyzes class action and collective action rulings involving claims brought against employers in all fifty state court systems, including decisions pertaining to employment laws, wage & hour laws, and breach of employment contract actions. The key class action and collective action settlements over the past year are also analyzed, both in terms of gross settlement dollars in private plaintiff and government-initiated lawsuits as well as injunctive relief provisions in consent decrees. Finally, the Report also discusses important federal and state court rulings in non-workplace cases which are significant in their impact on the defense of workplace class action litigation. In total, there are 407 decisions analyzed in the Report.

The cases decided in 2006 foreshadow the direction of class action litigation in the coming year. One certain conclusion is that employment law class action and collective action litigation is becoming ever more sophisticated and will continue to be a source of significant financial exposure to employers well into the future. Employers also can expect that class action and collective action lawsuits increasingly will combine claims under multiple statutes, thereby requiring the defense bar to have a cross-disciplinary understanding of substantive employment law as well as the procedural peculiarities of opt-out classes under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the opt-in procedures in FLSA and ADEA collective actions.

This report represents the collective contributions of a significant number of our colleagues at Seyfarth Shaw LLP. We wish to thank and acknowledge those contributions by Richard L. Alfred, Lorie Almon, Brett C. Bartlett, Edward Bergmann, William M. Brown, Mark A. Casciari, John L. Collins, Ariel Cudkowicz, Catherine Dacre, Gilmore F. Diekmann, Jr., Brenda H. Feis, Noah Finkel, Michael Gallion, David D. Kadue, Lynn Kappelman, Thomas R. Kaufman, Ray Kepner, Mary Kay Klimesh, Carolyn Knox, Ronald J. Kramer, Sam McAdam, Richard P. McArdle, John Meyers, Ian H. Morrison, John Murray, Camille A. Olson, Andrew Paley, Kate Perrelli, Thomas J. Piskorski, George Preonas, David Ross, Jeffrey Ross, David Rowland, Diane M. Soubly, Edwin Sullivan, Kenneth D. Sulzer, Joseph S. Turner, and Kenwood Youmans.

Our goal is for this Report to guide clients through the sticky thicket of class action and collective action decisional law, and to enable corporate counsel to make sound and informed litigation decisions while minimizing risk. We hope that you find the Seyfarth Shaw Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report to be useful.

OVERVIEW OF THE YEAR IN WORKPLACE CLASS ACTION LITIGATION

The plaintiffs' employment bar filed significant class action and collective action lawsuits against employers in 2006. As this Report reflects, federal and state courts faced a myriad of new theories and defenses in ruling on class action and collective action litigation issues.

Three key issues are manifested by developments over the past year. First, the U.S. Congress enacted significant reforms to federal class action procedures in February of 2005 with passage of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA"). …