Academic journal article Labor Law Journal

Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report: Fair Labor Standards Act Litigation

Academic journal article Labor Law Journal

Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report: Fair Labor Standards Act Litigation

Article excerpt

From J. Stephen Poor, Managing Partner, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP:

The last few years have seen an explosion in class action litigation over workplace issues. The stakes in such litigation can be extremely significant, as the financial and operational impact of such cases is enormous. More often than not, class actions adversely affect the market share of a corporation and prejudice its reputation in the marketplace. It is truly an exposure which keeps corporate counsel and business executives awake at night.

Defense of employers in complex, high-stakes workplace litigation is one of the hallmarks of Seyfarth Shaw's practice. Through that work, our attorneys are on the forefront of the myriad of issues confronting employers in class action litigation.

In order to assist our clients in understanding and avoiding such litigation, we are pleased to present the 2006 edition of the Seyfarth Shaw Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report. This edition, authored by the class action specialists in our Labor & Employment Practice Group, contains a circuit-by-circuit and state-bystate review of significant class action rulings issued in 2005, and analyzes the most significant settlements over the past twelve months in class actions and collective actions. We hope this Annual Report will assist our clients in understanding class action exposures and the developing case law under both federal and state law.

AUTHORS' NOTE

Our Annual Report analyzes the leading class action and collective action decisions of 2005 involving claims against employers brought in federal courts under Tide VII of the Civil Rights of 1964 (Tide 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 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 205 decisions analyzed in the Report.

The cases decided in 2005 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 LLR We wish to thank and acknowledge those contributions by Richard L. Alfred, Lorie Almon, Edward Bergmann, William M. Brown, Mark A. Casciari, John L. Collins, Ariel Cudkowicz, Brenda H. Feis, Noah Finkel, David D. Kadue, Lynn Kappelman, Thomas R. Kaufman, Ray Kepner, Richard P. McArdle, John Meyers, Ian H. Morrison, Andrew Paley, Kate Perrelli, Thomas J. Piskorski, George Preonas, David Ross, Jeffrey Ross, David Rowland, Steven Staes, Edwin Sullivan, Kenneth D. Sulzer, Joseph S. Turner, and Kenwood Youmans. …

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