FLSA Suits Hit Record High in 2014

More than 8,000 cases brought over a 12-month period

By Stephen Miller, CEBS May 22, 2014

It’s shaping up as another record year for federal wage and hour lawsuits filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), marking 2014 the seventh straight year of increases in these cases, according to law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Data obtained from the Federal Judicial Center revealed that during the 12-month period preceding March 31, 2014, a total of 8,126 FLSA cases were filed (up nearly 5 percent from the preceding 12-month period, which saw 7,764 cases filed). FLSA cases have spiked across the country, rising 438 percent since 2000 (see a complete chart of federal FLSA claims filed between 1990–2014).

“The wage and hour litigation epidemic continues, and we expect this trend to expand further in the coming year,” said Richard Alfred, chair of Seyfarth’s Wage & Hour Litigation practice. “While the rise we’ve seen in FLSA cases is astonishing, these numbers are also just one part of the equation. They would be even higher if wage and hour lawsuits filed in state courts under state pay practices, data which isn’t readily available, were added.”

Looking ahead, Alfred believes several factors will fuel the continued rise of FLSA lawsuits during the next 12 months:

  • The tightening of the federal standards for class certification has driven plaintiffs’ attorneys to file many single- and multi-plaintiff lawsuits if and when class certification is denied or a class is decertified.
  • Talk of raising the minimum wage has increased focus on wage and hour laws and the availability of overtime pay.
  • President Barack Obama’s recent directive to the secretary of labor to revise the regulations on white-collar exemptions has, as it did the last time the regulations were amended in 2004, caused employees to pay more attention to wage and hour policies and practices.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMsmiller.

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