by Douglas Weiner

Epstein Becker Green was well represented at the National Advanced Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions held in New York City on May 19 and 20. EBG attorney Douglas Weiner addressed the Conference regarding his experience as a former Senior Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor, identifying emerging trends of Fair Labor Standards Act litigation, and the most expensive mistakes employers make – and how to avoid them. The second day Mr. Weiner moderated a panel of Judges experienced in presiding over wage & hour class actions who gave their insights into effective trial management techniques and settlement strategies. 

Plaintiffs’ counsel, defense counsel, former Department of Labor officials, and seasoned Judges exchanged views on:

  • The latest on exemption claims, independent contractor and employee misclassifications, donning and doffing, compensable work, off-the-clock activities and other current areas of wage and hour litigation.
  • Plaintiffs’ new targets, including remote access, tip pooling, and where the plaintiff’s bar is particularly active and looking at new opportunities.
  • With a new sheriff in town, and the economic stimulus package requiring the payment of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates for covered projects, the Department of Labor’s stepped up enforcement of Government contract work.
  • Motions for conditional certification, and motions for decertification with a view of recent rulings in current cases.
  • Making the call whether to settle early, late or not at all: Evaluating potential exposure, risks of litigation and managing a settlement structure where appropriate.
  • Plaintiffs’ counsel expressed their view that wage hour class actions were accelerating “vertically” and “horizontally”. Using California as the epicenter of such litigation, their intent is to drill into industries and business groups that have not yet been targeted, thus expanding class action lawsuits vertically. Horizontally, they expect to give employers throughout the nation the same scrutiny that has resulted in the many large judgments that are reported on a nearly daily basis. 

Defense counsel emphasized the advice EpsteinBeckerGreen gives our clients. Conduct a wage hour self-audit, and ensure compliance with applicable law, to gain the upper hand.

A similar National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions is scheduled to take place in San Francisco in October. We hope to see you there.