From federal courts to state courthouses and all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, 2017 was an exceptionally busy year in the workplace class action litigation landscape.
The monetary value of workplace class action settlements has skyrocketed and government enforcement actions have increased, but employers saw more favorable rulings from the Supreme Court and had more success blocking class certifications in 2017.
To help businesses navigate this changing landscape, we have created the 2018 Seyfarth Shaw Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report.
4 Key Trends in Class Action Litigation
The monetary value of the top workplace class action settlements rose dramatically in 2017, with the top 10 settlements in employment-related categories totaling a record high of $2.72 billion — nearly $1 billion more than 2016.
a favorable landscape
Evolving case law precedents and new defense approaches resulted in better statistical outcomes for employers in opposing class certification requests for the second straight year. In one of the most active categories, wage & hour litigation, employers won 63% of decertification rulings, a success rate up almost 20% from 2016.
With the federal government in transition, 2017 results were heavily influenced by Obama administration holdover policies and personnel as government enforcement litigation increased. This balloon is expected to burst in 2018 as the Trump administration settles in further, pulling back these policies and positions; yet, at the same time, it is expected that the private plaintiffs’ class action bar will step up their lawsuit filings and “fill the void.”
After issuing several key decisions in 2017 that were arguably more pro-business and pro-employer than in the past, the Supreme Court could profoundly change the class action playing field in 2018 with its highly anticipated ruling on the Epic Systems, Murphy Oil, and Ernst & Young trilogy of cases, which address the legality of workplace arbitration agreements with class action waivers.
A Look Ahead
Seyfarth partner Gerald Maatman reviews the key findings in workplace class action litigation for 2017, plus a look what employers can expect in 2018.
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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:
About the Practice
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.