Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report: An Overview of 2016 in Workplace Class Action Litigation

By Maatman, Gerald | Labor Law Journal, Spring 2017 | Go to article overview

Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report: An Overview of 2016 in Workplace Class Action Litigation


Maatman, Gerald, Labor Law Journal


Our Annual Report analyzes the leading class action and collective action decisions of 2016 involving claims against employers brought in federal courts under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 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 50 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 work place class action litigation. In total, there are 1,331 decisions analyzed in the Report.

The cases decided in 2016 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, Raymond C. Baldwin, Brett C. Bartlett, Edward W. Bergmann, Fiolger Besch, Daniel Blouin, Michael J. Burns, Robert J. Carty, Jr., Mark A. Casciari, John L. Collins, Ariel Cudkowicz, Catherine M. Dacre, Joseph R. Damato, Christopher J. DeGroff, Rebecca DeGroff, Pamela Devata, Ada Dolph, Alex Drummond, William F. Dugan, Noah A. Finkel, Timothy E Haley, Heather Havette, Eric Janson, David D. Kadue, Lynn Kappelman, Raymond R. Kepner, Daniel B. Klein, Mary Kay Klimesh, Ronald J. Kramer, Richard B. Lapp, Richard P. McArdle, Jon Meer, Ian H. Morrison, Camille A. Olson, Andrew Paley, Katherine E. Perrelli, Kyle Peterson, Thomas J. Piskorski, Jennifer Riley, David Ross, Jeffrey K. Ross, David J. Rowland, Frederick T. Smith, Amanda Sonneborn, Diana Tabacopoulos, Joseph S. Turner, Annette Tyman, Peter A. Walker, Timothy M. Watson, Robert S. Whitman, Tom Wybenga, and Kenwood C. Youmans.

Our goal is for this Report to guide clients through the 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.

Introduction

Workplace class action litigation has increased geometrically over the past decade. More often than not, It poses unique "bet-the-company" risks for employers. An adverse judgment in a class action has the potential to bankrupt a business or eviscerate its market share. Likewise, the on-going defense of a class action can drain corporate resources long before the case reaches a decision point. Companies that do business in multiple states are also susceptible to "copy-cat" class actions, whereby plaintiffs' lawyers create a domino effect of litigation filings that challenge corporate policies and practices in numerous jurisdictions at the same time. …

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