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Wage, hour suits hit record high, firm study finds

Wage-and-hour lawsuits filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act have hit an all-time high, according to a new study of federal court caseloads.

Government figures showed that 7,764 FLSA cases were filed in federal court during the 12-month period ending March 30, 2013. That’s the most since defense firm Seyfarth Shaw began tracking federal wage-and-hour litigation in 1990.

“With no clear catalyst during the past 12 months, this strong spike and new high for FLSA claims makes them one of the top threats to U.S. employers,” said Richard Alfred, chair of Seyfarth’s Wage & Hour Litigation practice, in a news release.

According to a chart prepared by the firm, the latest figure represents a 10 percent increase over the 7,064 cases filed during a similar reporting period that ended in 2012.

“We’ve seen an astonishing rise in FLSA claims, but with a slim one percent increase in 2012, it’s surprising to see a sharp increase like this,” Alfred said.

According to Alfred, the bulk of new claims allege misclassification of employees, uncompensated “work” performed off the clock, and miscalculation of overtime pay for non-exempt workers.

In his statement, Alfred cited several factors for the jump in 2013 filings, including an improved economy providing incentives for plaintiffs’ counsel to sue new and relatively unsophisticated companies, a growing awareness of the profitability of wage-and-hour litigation on the part of lawyers, and an increased awareness of pay issues by employees, due in part to social media.

Seyfarth based its study on data obtained from the Federal Judicial Center, a government research agency for the federal courts.


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