Those who've followed the past coverage on this site won't be all that surprised by last week's cover story on the fastest-growing area of employment litigation, but it's a good introduction to the subject for those new to it, with some nuggets worth memorializing:
No one tracks precise figures, but lawyers on both sides estimate that over the last few years companies have collectively paid out more than $1 billion annually to resolve these claims, which are usually brought on behalf of large groups of employees....Wal-Mart Stores is swamped with about 80 wage and hour suits, and in the past two years has seen juries award $172 million to workers in California and $78.5 million in Pennsylvania.
"This is the biggest problem for companies out there in the employment area by far," says J. Nelson Thomas, a Rochester (N.Y.) attorney, who, like [Reno attorney Mark] Thierman, switched from defense to plaintiffs' work. "I can hit a company with a hundred sexual harassment lawsuits, and it will not inflict anywhere near the damage that [a wage and hour suit] will." ...
While violations appear widespread, employees themselves rarely think to make wage and hour claims. Instead, they usually have it suggested to them by lawyers. "Ninety-five percent of our wage and hour cases are a result of someone coming to us complaining about something else," says Thomas. "I can't tell you how many people have come into our office with employment disputes that are meritless and would be thrown out of court and walk out with an FLSA claim."