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2012 class action rulings changing labor's legal landscape

In our Employment Law blog, we've talked in the past about seeking help when something just doesn't feel right in the workplace. Some people are tentative about seeking counsel when they aren't sure that they have a claim, but are often surprised when they learn that the law really does provide protection. It is the legal representatives they talk to that change what they know about the law, but that isn't the only things that changes.

The law itself needs revision and updates to keep up with changing society, and these legal representatives are often on the front lines of this change. Arguments that are well-presented and backed with evidentiary support can change the way courts traditionally make decisions -- in the legal world, this is called precedent. The year 2012 was a big one for big changes in the way courts handle certain issues in workplace class actions.

According to an annual "Workplace Class Action Litigation Report," there were 1,059 class action rulings made this past year concerning workplace laws. Many of these rulings relied upon three U.S. Supreme Court rulings that were made in the year prior. These federal rulings from the highest court set precedent for the legal class action landscape this past year, lower courts citing these major rulings.

In the wake of these rulings, the number of wage and hour claims based on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or state law rose in 2012 and continue to rise without indication that they will slow in the year 2013. In fact, there were a total of 893 more wage violation cases filed in 2012, many of them in the form of class actions. These claims and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigations are keeping employers on their toes.

The slowed economy may have also played a role in the increased number of class action lawsuits based on systemic violations, but it is also important to remember that individuals who suffer individual harm have as much of a right to file a claim against their employer for the damages that they suffer.

Source: Claims Journal, "2012 Landmark Year for Workplace Class Action Litigation: Study," Jan. 15, 2013

Our Kansas City, Missouri, law firm provides attentive service in both individual and class action wage and hour cases and experienced representation so that clients can get the compensation they need while leaving the legal jargon to us.

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