HR Management & Compliance

Be Proactive, Not Reactive, In Avoiding Class Actions

Yesterday, we looked at 8 trends that make class actions a real danger for every HR department in 2011. Today, more key issues to consider — and an introduction to a unique resource that will help you avoid wage/hour class actions altogether.

Seyfarth Shaw, LLP’s Annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report suggests that HR managers take note of the following issues:

Trickle-Down Effect

First of all, the report says, beware the trickle-down effect in class action settlements — once there have been a few big ones, the next suits in line expect big settlements too. Add to that the increased awareness of wage/hour issues by workers, and watch out for collective actions in 2011.

Stolt and Arbitration

A new case law trend in 2010 focused on workplace arbitration agreements, the report says. While no one suggests that the sun is setting on workplace class actions, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Stolt-Nielsen S.A., et al. v. Animalfeeds International Corp. does suggest that comprehensive workplace arbitration programs may help employers avoid some class action litigation risks.

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Year of the Misclassified

2010 might be termed the “Year of the Misclassified Worker,” based on end-of-year figures that show a sharp increase in crackdowns by state and federal authorities, and filings by class action lawyers in pursuing private lawsuits against companies that allegedly misclassify employees.

Independent Contractors

Employers utilizing independent contractors were the focus of intense litigation in 2010, the report says. Approximately 20 states and scores of municipalities passed laws in the past two years that make it easier to force employers to reclassify independent contractors as employees and seek unpaid taxes, or authorize claims for “wage theft.”

The DOL and IRS also increased their budgets and staffs to identify and audit employers and their classifications of workers, as well as implementing its new “Plan/Prevent/Protect” enforcement strategy.

What’s the Real Implication?

What does all this mean for HR? Two things:

1. Many of these issues are too technical for HR managers. Issues such as court jurisdiction, class certification, and arbitration agreements point to the need for involving counsel early when class actions are anticipated or encountered.

2. But … that doesn’t mean that HR managers should do nothing. Go on the offense. To be sure, check on classifications and independent contractors, and — most important — train, train, train

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Get Prepared: Order the 2011 Edition of How To Comply with California Wage & Hour Law Now

Whenever you’re dealing with wage/hour issues, your best defense is a strong offense — in this case, our fully updated 2011 Edition of our HR Management & Compliance Report, How To Comply with California Wage & Hour Law.

This information-packed 168-page guide, written by an experienced California employment lawyer, features in-depth coverage of all the topics you need to know about in an easy-read, quick-reference style:

  • The California Labor Code vs. the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Who the California wage/hour laws apply to
  • The Wage Orders that cover your organization
  • Hours of work – including travel time, make-up time, meal and rest periods, and the definition of “hours worked”
  • The rules for hourly, salary, and piece-rate pay
  • Bonuses, profit-sharing plans, and tips
  • Overtime and double-time wages
  • Alternative workweeks
  • Tools and equipment, uniforms, and work-related expenses and losses
  • Paid time off — vacation, PTO, holidays, and sick leave
  • Unpaid time off
  • When and how employees must be paid
  • Payment of final wages upon termination
  • Deductions from pay
  • Recordkeeping requirements
  • Pay-related discrimination
  • A new appendix of key cases you need to know about
  • And much more!

Order your copy now and try it out risk-free for 30 days. If you’re dissatisfied in any way, just return it within 30 days for a full refund.

Don’t become the next statistic — get your copy of the 2011 Edition of How To Comply with California Wage & Hour Law today.

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