Many employment cases involve groups of employees coming together to hold their employer accountable for widespread wrongdoing. Lawsuits that involve large groups of plaintiffs like this are called class actions. Class action employment cases used to often involve numerous employees who claimed they suffered the same type of discrimination. However, the Supreme Court recently made it more difficult to qualify as a class in its decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes. In that case, 1.6 million female employees of the retail giant claimed they had suffered sex discrimination in the company’s promotion and pay raise practices. The Supreme Court decided that the women did not have common enough experiences to constitute a class. As a result of this decision, filing class action discrimination cases will now require prohibitive amount of discovery and other work for the plaintiffs.
Since the decision in 2011, employment law experts expect a drastic decline in the number of class action discrimination lawsuits. However, this does not mean that employment cases will decline overall, as other hot employment issues are popping up in cases on a more regular basis as we go in to 2014.
Wage and Hour Cases
Wage and hour lawsuits have been on the rise, with the number of cases increasing 10 percent from 2012 to 2013. Experts expect that number to keep rising, especially in light of the Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision. Some common bases for wage and hour cases include:
· Misclassification of employees vs. independent contractors
· Non-payment of interns
· Failing to pay full overtime wages
· Failing to pay for time spent preparing for shifts or cleaning up after shifts
· Not paying workers on time
· Not paying workers their final paychecks if a company goes out of business
California is one of the states with the most worker-friendly wage and hour laws, along with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Florida. Therefore, California is especially expected to see an increase in this type of case in 2014.
Social Media Cases
The use of social media in the workplace has also become a hot-button employment issue. New laws prohibiting employers from demanding access to employees’ personal social media profiles will be the focus of new cases targeting non-compliant companies. Furthermore, many cases will likely involve wrongful termination in violation of the employee’s First Amendment rights to free speech, after an employer fires someone for posting certain material on social media sites.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) provides several protections, incentives, and financial rewards for whistleblowers who report violations regarding insider trading, corporate disclosure, accounting fraud, dealer-broker violations, and more. Expect to see several whistleblowing claims arising in the New Year. These cases will mostly involve claims of unlawful retaliation against protected whistleblowers.
In short, employment cases will not decrease simply because of the difficulties facing potential class action discrimination suits. Employees still have plenty of reasons to file claims against their employers to receive the compensations they deserve. If you are facing any employment issue, do not hesitate to contact the Pershing Square Law Firm to discuss a potential case.