Firm News

Jan 7, 2020

Seyfarth’s 16th Annual Workplace Class Action Report: Plaintiffs’ Win Percentage For Certification Conversion Climbs to Historic New Level in 2019

Capping A Decade Worth of Analysis, Report Details Five Key Trends in Workplace Class Action Litigation for 2020
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CHICAGO (January 7, 2020) – Seyfarth has released its 16th annual edition of the Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, which is recognized as the nation’s most complete guide to workplace-related complex litigation. In its largest edition ever, Seyfarth analyzed a record number of 1,467 class action rulings on a circuit-by-circuit and state-by-state basis to capture key themes from 2019 and emerging litigation trends facing U.S. companies in 2020.

Over the span of its 16 years, Seyfarth’s Report has developed the industry’s most comprehensive class action database featuring analyses of over 20,000 cases. Described as the “definitive source of information on employment class action litigation” and a resource that “no practitioner who deals with employment claims. . . should be without” by Employment Compliance Magazine, Seyfarth’s Report is the sole compendium in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to workplace class action litigation. This year’s 798 page Report is the “go to” research and resource guide for businesses and their corporate counsel facing complex litigation in the coming year.

“This year’s Report shows stunning numbers for class action certification conversion rates for plaintiffs, where statistically we saw the highest success rate for the plaintiffs’ bar in 16 years,” said Seyfarth partner and author of the Report, Gerald L. Maatman, Jr. “While wage & hour lawsuit filings dropped to the lowest level in the last decade, the value of settlement figures doubled in this area, bucking the overall trend of depressed settlement numbers in 2019. As we head into 2020, employers may look forward to more business-friendly SCOTUS decisions, but will need to prepare for the litigation challenges associated with new case law and the laser-like focus on workplace harassment issues.”

Expanding on these developments, the Seyfarth Report details five key employment litigation trends for corporations in 2020:

  1. Plaintiffs Break Record for Certification Conversion Rate: The plaintiffs’ bar achieved the highest rate ever of certification of class actions in federal courts in the Report’s 16-year history (81% for wage & hour, 65% for ERISA, and 64% for employment discrimination).
  2. Wage & Hour Lawsuit Filings Hit Decade Low: Federal wage & hour lawsuit filings dipped for the third year in a row, and were at the lowest levels in the past decade at 6,780 (down from 7,494 in 2018) – due primarily to the Epic Systems ruling last year, which forces plaintiffs’ lawyers to often forego lawsuit filings and go straight into single plaintiff, bilateral, non-class arbitrations.
  3. Settlement Figures Double for Wage & Hour and Bottom Out for Government Enforcement: Overall settlement figures rose slightly in 2019, but more than doubled for wage & hour ($449 million - up from $253 million in 2018), and fell through the floor for government enforcement cases ($57.52 million as compared to $125 million in 2018, and $485 million in 2017).
  4. SCOTUS Rules Pro-Business: Over the past several years, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued more rulings than in previous years that have impacted the prosecution and defense of class actions and government enforcement litigation. This past year continued that trend, with several key decisions on complex employment litigation and class action issues that were arguably more pro-business than decisions in past terms. Along with the Epic Systems ruling, Lamps Plus v. Varela and Nutraceutical Corp. v. Lambert reflected a conservative, strict constructionist reading of statutes and class action procedures.
  5. #MeToo Momentum: As it continues to gain momentum, the #MeToo movement is fueling employment litigation issues in general and workplace class action litigation in particular. Of the EEOC’s 2019 sex discrimination lawsuit filings, 28 cases included claims of sexual harassment, and 57 of the 84 Title VII lawsuits were based on gender discrimination allegations. Employers can expect that #MeToo issues will remain in the spotlight in 2020, and litigation over these issues is not apt to slow down in the coming year.

To view additional videos, charts and data from the Workplace Class Action Litigation Report please visit www.workplaceclassactionreport.com, where you may also request a copy. Available as a downloadable eBook, the Seyfarth Report is fully searchable, compatible with all major devices, allows readers to bookmark useful sections for easy future reference, and includes a number of other features, such as note-taking, highlighting and more.

About Seyfarth
With more than 900 lawyers across 16 offices, Seyfarth Shaw LLP provides advisory, litigation, and transactional legal services to clients worldwide.

Contacts:

Brian Kiefer, Director of Communications, (312) 460-6401, bkiefer@seyfarth.com

Martin Grego, Senior Public Relations Manager, (312) 460-6659, mgrego@seyfarth.com