2014

Annual Seyfarth Shaw Study Reveals 2012 as Landmark Year for Workplace Class Action Litigation, Details "Halo Effect" of Supreme Court Ruling in Wal-Mart

CHICAGO, Jan. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Seyfarth Shaw LLP has released the 9th annual edition of its Workplace Class Action Litigation Report. Recognized as the "definitive source of information on employment class action litigation" by EPLiC Magazine and a resource that "no practitioner who deals with employment claims ... should be without," the 870-page Report covers 1,059 class action rulings rendered by federal and state courts in 2012 on workplace laws.

The 2013 Report analyzes a landmark year for complex employment-related disputes in 2012 and predicts an array of developing trends for employers to monitor in 2013, led by a dramatic "halo effect" from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.

Many of the key rulings of 2012 in class action cases hinged on the Supreme Court's 2011 rulings in three milestone cases: Wal-Mart, AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, and Smith v. Bayer, according to the Report.

Chief among these Supreme Court decisions, Wal-Mart's impact on changing Rule 23 class certification standards dominated the legal landscape in 2012 and was cited by lower courts an astounding 541 times in 2012, generating a tidal wave of new class certification rulings and related decisions on a wide variety of class action issues.

"Marked by the halo effect of Wal-Mart, this past year created a number of lasting changes in employment law that will continue to alter the legal landscape and litigation strategies for employers in 2013," said Seyfarth's Gerald L. Maatman, Jr., co-chair of its Class Action Defense group and author of the Report. "Meanwhile, wage and hour claims continue to rise with no sign of a crest in lawsuit filings and the EEOC's renewed focus on systemic investigations also pose high-stakes challenges for employers."

The Seyfarth Report identifies six emerging workplace class action trends for employers to heed in 2013:

  1. The Supreme Court's opinions in Wal-Mart and Concepcion had a profound influence in shaping the course of class action litigation rulings in 2012, beginning a new wave of creative case law theories that will continue to evolve and impact employers in the defense of their cases in 2013.
  2. Government enforcement remained "white hot" in 2012 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) garnering a four-fold increase in recoveries against employers for its systemic discrimination investigations. Government enforcement activity is expected to accelerate even more in 2013.
  3. Wal-Mart significantly influenced settlement strategies for workplace class actions in 2012, as employers settled fewer employment discrimination class actions and at a fraction of the levels experienced from 2006 to 2011 (a total of $48.65 million for the top ten settlements in 2012 compared to $346.4 million in 2010 prior to the Wal-Mart ruling in 2011). Against this backdrop, the plaintiffs' class action bar is "re-booting" its approach to class litigation and this trend may reverse itself in 2013.
  4. The sluggishness of the U.S. economy during 2012 fueled more class action and collective class action litigation. This trend is expected to continue in 2013 as businesses retool operations in an improving economy and the Obama Administration renews an emphasis on enforcing workplace laws.
  5. Wage & hour litigation continued to outpace all other types of workplace class actions in 2012, led by 7,672 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuits filed this past year, an increase of 893 cases from the then record levels in 2011. These figures are expected to grow again in 2013, as well wage & hour class action litigation in employee-friendly state courts like California and New York.
  6. The tight-knit plaintiffs' class action bar has moved quickly to respond to Wal-Mart and craft new approaches to class-wide theories of certification, liability, and damages related to the Rule 23 developments, creating a new – and evolving – set of challenges for employers.

For further details, the complete 870-page Report is available for the first time as an eBook, which is accessible from Seyfarth's website. To learn more or request a copy, please visit http://www.seyfarth.com/publications/Ninth-Annual-Workplace-Class-Action.  

Seyfarth Shaw has more than 800 attorneys located in 10 offices throughout the United States, including: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as internationally in London. Seyfarth Shaw provides a broad range of legal services in the areas of labor and employment, employee benefits, litigation, corporate and real estate. The firm's clients include over 300 of the Fortune 500 companies, and its practice reflects virtually every industry and segment of the economy. For more information, please visit www.seyfarth.com.

Contact:
Brian Kiefer, Director of Public Relations
(312) 460-6401, bkiefer@seyfarth.com

SOURCE Seyfarth Shaw LLP



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