With employment lawsuits nationwide rising about 200% over the last decade, it is more important than ever for employees to know their rights as workers. Employment attorneys have cited growing awareness of employment law as a major cause of the increase in employment lawsuits.
Other reasons cited are recent provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that have extended the statute of limitations from two years to three if the employee can show that their employer intentionally violated the FLSA. Proving this can be as easy as showing that the employer failed to keep accurate time records, a common complaint in overtime lawsuits. Providing such proof can also double the amount of unpaid wages employees can collect, another motivator for the increase in employment lawsuits.
Another recent provision by the FLSA is the requirement for defendants, if they lose the case, to pay all attorneys' fees and costs. According to employment attorneys who specialize in FLSA lawsuits, the amount of damages and fees an employer could end up paying is a huge motivator to settle cases. It is also a big reason for employees to file wage and hour lawsuits.
According to the Federal Judicial Center, New York federal courts have seen a greater rise in employment lawsuits than the rest of the nation. The Southern District alone saw an increase of 626% from 2003 to 2012. Although the Southern District of New York had 682 new cases filed between October 2, 2011 and September 30, 2012 (compared to 94 new cases filed in 2003) it does not reach the top as the court with the highest new cases filed. That honor goes to the Southern District of Florida with 1,304. The Northern District of Alabama comes in second with 1,029 and the Southern District of New York takes third place.
Among all of the 94 federal district courts, wage and hour lawsuits comprised 3% of all civil lawsuits filed during the last fiscal year. For the Eastern District of New York, that rate reaches 10% while the Southern District of New York has 6.5 wage and hour lawsuits for every 10 civil lawsuits filed.