The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) collected an all-time high number of lawsuits for aggrieved workers in 2013. The $372 million increased 10% from 2012. Rewards collected and suits filed have increased every year since 2007. All signs point to an increase in suits filed in 2014.
Discrimination lawsuits continue to fill courtrooms, but plaintiffs are filing more wage-and-hour suits than ever before. These claims refer to employee’s right to fair wages for overtime, drive time and off-the-clock work.
Changes in the legal industry are pushing lawyers to search for new monetary avenues. Reform has limited the amount of money to be made from medical malpractice suits. The EEOC’s aggressive filing of lawsuits makes employment discrimination and wage-and-hour litigation a prime hunting ground for these lawyers.
Some of these suits are a result of confusing legal language in major cities. A salary, or exempt employee who is consistently late can be reprimanded for lateness but they cannot have their pay docked. An hourly, or nonexempt employee who works overtime without your consent must be paid for that work regardless of the circumstances.
The economy shoulders some blame for the rise in litigation. Employees are forced to stay in jobs they don’t enjoy that make them unhappy because there aren’t any open positions elsewhere. These employees see wage-and-hour suits as an alternative to personally confronting an employer for a raise.
The increase in litigation means that employers must be cautious when dealing with employees. Monitor federal labor laws and make certain timekeeping and hiring processes comply or you could be facing a lawsuit.