Wave of FLSA & FMLA Lawsuits Continues to Swell
FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) and FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) lawsuits are up again this year. FLSA claims are up nearly 20% since 2011 and have more than doubled since 2004. The figures released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts show the highest annual number of FLSA filings in more than 20 years. Similarly, FMLA claims have tripled over the past three years.
The continuing increase in filings is generally attributed to the ambiguity and antiquity of the FLSA and related regulations, a shifting regulatory environment that is guided by politics, recoveries that are often more lucrative than actual damages, and a greater awareness of rights by workers and enforcement by the government. The FMLA, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, has seen important expansions in its coverage over the past two years, most recently with the Department of Labor’s application of its protections to married same-sex couples regardless of whether the state they live in recognizes their union. And, while collective actions have increased over the past several years, recent decisions striking down massive classes have led plaintiff’s lawyers to break up filings into smaller actions which may contribute to the increase in the number of suits being filed.
This surge is expected to continue in 2015 due to publicity and awareness generated by the Department of Labor’s expected proposed revisions, and for the previously mentioned reasons.