Wage & Hour Litigation

Wage and hour lawsuits, government investigations, and enforcement actions represent the single most significant threat to employers operating in the United States.

Federal wage and hour lawsuits filed nationally have increased by more than 400% since 2000.  State courts have also experienced high volumes of wage and hour cases, especially in California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts.  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has increased the number of wage and hour investigators auditing employers’ pay practices and is initiating enforcement actions with gre  ater frequency.  Whether in hard-fought litigation, nuanced responses to government investigations or enforcement actions, or tactical negotiations to secure favorable settlements, employers often have strong defenses that can dramatically reduce or eliminate their potential exposure and increase their leverage in negotiations.  The key is to identify, develop, and implement them strategically.

Complex Wage and Hour Litigation

Seyfarth Shaw is recognized as the go-to law firm for helping employers avoid wage and hour litigation, government investigations and enforcement actions, and for defending them whenever litigation arises.  Our more than 100 wage and hour practitioners represent employers nationwide in nearly every industry, unionized and non-unionized alike.  We currently are defending hundreds of wage and hour class and collective action lawsuits, including some of the most complex and impactful cases filed to date. 

The costs associated with complex wage and hour litigation can be staggering and thus daunting to an employer. Our deep experience in aggressively contesting wage and hour claims is critical to developing our strategies for minimizing damage and disruption for our clients. Our track record of success in handling these types of complex wage and hour actions is increasingly important given the volume and complexity of cases filed, the ever changing theories of liability presented by plaintiffs’ counsel, and the constantly evolving case law that often varies greatly among the courts.

What differentiates Seyfarth from other firms is that we offer more than just legal advice.  We are dedicated to understanding our clients’ businesses and committed to delivering value.  Our SeyfarthLean® client service model incorporates innovative technology and the core principals of the project management discipline to our representations.  This increases efficiency, creates better value for the fees paid, and allows us to work toward outcomes that match the business objectives of our clients, including increased transparency in all aspects of a matter.
Our attorneys defend our clients against all types of wage and hour lawsuits, ranging from individual claims to large national class and collective actions, potentially containing hundreds of thousands of members.  In the last few years, we have defended more than 500 complex wage and hour cases in nearly every federal and state court jurisdiction up to and through trial and appeal.  Through our defense strategies and analytical acumen, we have established important legal precedents for the benefit of employers across many industries and states. Our wage and hour representations include the full spectrum of claims under federal and state laws, including allegations of:

  • Misclassification of employees as exempt under the “white collar” administrative, executive, and professional (learned and creative) exemptions
  • Misclassification of workers as independent contractors
  • Failure to pay otherwise exempt employees on a salary basis
  • Failure to pay  for alleged pre- and post-shift "off-the-clock" activities for non-exempt employees
  • Unpaid on-duty meal and rest breaks
  • Improper calculation of the regular rate and
  • Failure to pay minimum wage
  • Failure to pay overtime to drivers who qualify for exemption under the Motor Carrier Act and related laws
  • Failure to pay overtime to sales people who are exempt under the Outside Sales Exemption
  • Improper tip and "service charge" practices
  • Other pay practice irregularities under state statutory and common laws

Our attorneys have authored the definitive treatises in wage and hour law.  These include Wage & Hour Collective & Class Litigation (Law Journal Press 2012, most recently updated 2014); Litigating California Wage & Hour and Labor Code Class Actions (14th ed., 2014)1; California Peculiarities: How California Employment Law is Different 15th ed., 2014); Massachusetts Peculiarities: An Employer’s Guide to Wage & Hour Law in the Bay State (2nd ed., 2014); and Illinois Employer’s Guide to Wage and Hour Issues (2011).  We have testified before Congress and state legislatures to articulate the perspective of employers on wage and hour issues.  In fact, one of our colleagues in our Washington D.C. office recently was selected to serve as lead counsel to a coalition of employers in connection with the DOL’s proposed revisions to “white collar” overtime exemptions.  We maintain a leading and long-running blog dedicated to wage and hour issues (visit us at www.wagehourlitigation.com).  In addition, we publish Management Alerts, One-Minute Memos, and white papers that provide timely analysis of important legal developments.  Click here to subscribe.

Additionally, every year we audit classifications, policies, and practices of hundreds of the nation’s largest employers, guide businesses through complex government compliance reviews, defend them in enforcement actions, and serve as appellate counsel on some of the most cutting-edge federal and state court appeals.

We further divide our wage and hour litigation practice into the following areas:

1 Copies available upon request