There's a lot of wealth to be built in this kind of litigation
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) August 5, 2008
$24.4 million - that's the average settlement award for a lawsuit alleging violations of state wage & hour laws.** 250 percent - that's how much federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) complaint filings have increased since 2003.*** The numbers are staggering, but House Democrats are vowing for even stricter enforcement standards of wage and hour laws.****
2009 is shaping up to be a grim year for employers.
In a recent survey of more than 2,000 legal, ethics, and HR professionals, conducted by ELT - a leading provider of online compliance training - 60 percent of respondents reported that either their employees were not accurately reporting all hours worked, or they didn't know if they were. Additionally, more than 40 percent of respondents were not confident that their employees even knew how to file a wage and hour complaint - a gaping hole that drastically increases liability, and the plaintiff's bar is eager to jump in.
"There's a lot of wealth to be built in this kind of litigation," said Shanti Atkins, President & CEO of ELT. "I call it the new tobacco-style litigation."
While 60 percent of respondents in another ELT survey reported providing extensive harassment and discrimination training to their workforces, employers are surprised to learn that there are now more wage and hour class action lawsuits than class actions arising from all other forms of discrimination, combined. However, less than a quarter of respondents reported providing any kind of wage and hour training to their employees.
According to Atkins, "Employers are only just beginning to realize that most wage and hour violations are easily preventable. With proper policies and training, employees and managers will understand and follow critical time keeping policies - eliminating the most common violations. As importantly, employers who conduct comprehensive training can use it to help establish an affirmative 'good faith' defense in litigation, reducing their potential liability by as much as two-thirds."*****
Atkins further stressed that consistent training of all employees can also help to fight class action status certification - a phenomenon that is fueling the most high profile, and the most costly wage and hour lawsuits.
ELT's online Wage and Hour course educates employees and managers about the basics of both federal and state wage and hour laws, as well as each employer's unique policies. The program intelligently configures its content based on the state location of each learner. This component is critical given the important differences among state wage and hour laws, which drive more litigation than their federal counterparts.
Information about ELT's wage and hour training solution can be found at: http://www.elt-inc.com/solutions/wageandhour/wage-and-hour.html
ELT provides employers of all sizes and across multiple industries with online compliance training of unparalleled quality. Featured in the New York Times and Fortune Small Business Magazine as one of the premier online training providers, ELT's programs have been used by more than 3 million learners in more than 1,000 leading organizations across the United States. ELT's courseware is built upon the renowned legal expertise of the global law firms Littler Mendelson and Shearman & Sterling, using Legal Engineering™ to help establish invaluable defenses to workplace litigation. Demos of ELT's courseware can be found at http://www.elt-inc.com.
** Measuring the Value of Class and Collective Action Employment Settlements: A Preliminary Assessment, a study published in December 2007 by New York University School of Law Profession Samuel Estreicher, available at: http://lsr.nellco.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&context=nyu/plltwp
*** Judicial Business of United States Courts, 2007, Table C-2A, available at: http://www.uscourts.gov/judbus2007/contents.html
**** See http://www.elt-inc.com/blog/2008/07/dol-needs-to-step-up-enforceme.html
***** See http://www.elt-inc.com/docs/Training_Damages_and_ROI.pdf