Class Action
Litigation Report

Workplace Class Action Litigation Report


From a stunning, billion-dollar fall in settlement values to the Me Too movement to high-impact Supreme Court rulings, 2018 brought a flood of unprecedented change to the workplace class action landscape.


The uncertainty of a new administration that plagued 2017 failed to materialize in 2018, with EEOC filings and litigation unexpectedly increasing, even as overall settlements dropped. Fueled by key Supreme Court rulings and the Me Too movement, 2019 is likely to present employers with more complex challenges than ever before.

For the past 15 years, Seyfarth’s Workplace Class Action Litigation Report has helped corporate employers navigate this increasingly volatile landscape.



high-impact rulings

As predicted in Seyfarth’s 2018 Report, the U.S. Supreme Court continued to play an unusually active role in reshaping employment law and class action dynamics. The Epic Systems ruling, which upheld the legality of class action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements, marks the most important SCOTUS decision for employers in nearly two decades. Following the appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the class action playing field for employers may shift even further in 2019.


Record-high Certifications

For the first time in the report’s 15-year history, the plaintiffs’ bar posted a record high certification success rate in 2018 of 79% in the largest category of workplace litigation of wage & hour litigation. Employer efforts to successfully decertify these cases also dropped by 11% as employers won only 52% of “second stage” decertification rulings, down from 63% in 2017.



enforcement up, values down

Despite the transition to a more business-friendly Trump Administration, government enforcement litigation rose again to a new three-year high in 2018. The EEOC filed 199 lawsuits last year, up from 184 in 2017, but the value of the top government settlements cratered, dropping from $485.25 million in 2017 to $126.7 million in 2018.


billion-dollar downturn

After reaching an all-time record high of $2.72 billion in 2017, the monetary value of the top workplace class action settlements decreased by more than 50% in 2018. Settlements sank to a five-year low of $1.32 billion in 2018, experiencing a record one-year drop of $1.4 billion. Even with a better success rate in 2018, settlements shrank across the board as plaintiffs failed to monetize class action victories at the same rate as 2017.



the me too effect

2018 offered the first annual look at the Me Too movement’s impact on workplace litigation; in particular, 74% of the EEOC’s Title VII filings targeted sex-based discrimination, up from 65% in 2017. Also rising were the EEOC’s 2018 sex discrimination lawsuits including claims of sexual harassment, which grew to 41 lawsuits, up from 33 in 2017.


A Look

A Look Ahead

Seyfarth partner Gerald Maatman reviews the key findings in workplace class action litigation for 2018, plus a look what employers can expect in 2019.


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About the Author

Gerald Maatman

Gerald L. Maatman Jr. is a partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and resident in the firm’s Chicago and New York offices. As co-chair of the firm’s class action defense group, Mr. Maatman’s primary emphasis is in defending employers sued in employment discrimination class actions, wage & hour collective actions, EEOC pattern or practice lawsuits, and civil rights/denial of access class actions brought in federal and state courts throughout the United States.  Mr. Maatman was recently recognized in Who's Who Legal, an in-depth guide to the world's leading labor and employment lawyers, as “the best class action lawyer in employment cases in America.”

Read Mr. Maatman’s full biography on Seyfarth Shaw’s website.

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This report represents the collective contributions of a significant number of our colleagues at Seyfarth Shaw LLP. We wish to thank and acknowledge those contributions by:

Richard L. Alfred Lorie Almon Raymond C. Baldwin Brett C. Bartlett
Edward W. Bergmann Holger Besch Daniel Blouin Michael J. Burns
Robert J. Carty, Jr. Mark A. Casciari John L. Collins Ariel Cudkowicz
Catherine M. Dacre Joseph R. Damato Christopher J. DeGroff Rebecca DeGroff
Pamela Devata Ada Dolph Alex Drummond Noah A. Finkel
Timothy F. Haley Eric Janson David D. Kadue Lynn Kappelman
Daniel B. Klein Ronald J. Kramer Richard B. Lapp Richard P. McArdle
Jon Meer Ian H. Morrison Camille A. Olson Andrew Paley
Katherine E. Perrelli Kyle Petersen Thomas J. Piskorski Jennifer Riley
David Ross Jeffrey K. Ross David J. Rowland Sam Schwartz-Fenwick
Frederick T. Smith Amanda Sonneborn Diana Tabacopoulos Joseph S. Turner
Annette Tyman Peter A. Walker Timothy M. Watson Robert S. Whitman
Tom Wybenga


About the Practice

Seyfarth Shaw

Clients turn to Seyfarth Shaw to defend class cases in jurisdictions across the country under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, wage-and-hour statutes and ERISA, as well as in numerous pattern and practice suits brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Our extensive experience enables us to begin work on these cases at an advanced level. Having defended hundreds of such cases, we already know the substantive law and can therefore focus immediately on procedural issues and other strategies. We frequently prevail in blocking or containing class certification, and through offensive strategies such as counterclaims and early dispositive motions.

Learn more at Seyfarth’s Complex Discrimination Litigation page.

         Class Action
Litigation Report

Workplace Class Action Litigation Report

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