The National Economic Research Associates (“NERA”) recently released a report indicating that wage and hour lawsuits and settlements have increased in 2012 across the United States. According to NERA’s report on LawyersandSettlements.com, employers paid, on average, 18% more to settle wage and hour disputes in 2012 than they did in 2011.
According to the report, employers paid out about $467 million in wage and hour settlements in 2012 alone. In addition, 102 wage and hour lawsuits settled before they went to trial in 2012, compared to the 446 total wage and hour lawsuits that were settled between January 2007 and December 2012. The average cost of each settlement in 2012 was $4.8 million with the average settlement per plaintiff being $1,300. In contrast, the average settlement amount in 2011 was $4.6 million, with the average settlement per plaintiff being $1,500. In conclusion, employers paid out approximately $200,000 more in 2012 for wage and hour settlements.
New York and California were the states that saw the most settlement hours paid out in wage and hour lawsuits. One major lawsuit that were settled in 2012 included the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. settlement, which paid out $99 million to about 7,000 employees who claimed that they were misclassified as exempt from overtime. Another major lawsuit settled in 2012 was H&R Block Enterprises, which paid out $35 million to about 18,000 employees alleging violations of California labor laws.
As your Atlanta employment lawyers can tell you, wage and hour disputes typically involve both current and former employees who claim violations such as: they were not paid for the regular and overtime hours that they worked, they were denied proper meal or rest breaks, or that they were required by their employers to work off the clock. Many times, employees bring wage and hour claims pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing wage and hour disputes for private employees and most government employees nationwide. With the help of your Atlanta employment lawyers, you can better understand your rights under FLSA, get a clear evaluation of any claim that you may have, and pursue your claim for the relief to which you may be entitled.
As an employer, you also need to be aware of your responsibilities and obligations pursuant to FLSA, so as to avoid costly and time-consuming wage and hour disputes. The NERA report points out, the average length of a class action wage and hour lawsuit is five years, and can result in a multi-million dollar settlement. By working with the Atlanta employment lawyers of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, you can place yourself in the best position to avoid wage and hour disputes with your employees.
Contact Parks, Chesin & Walbert today for a thorough evaluation of your case, or for a business consultation regarding the current employee designations at your company.