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'No end in sight' to wage and hour disputes, says employer firm

A law firm that represents employers in employment law cases just released its annual litigation forecast, shortly after the National Labor Relations Board announced its priorities for 2013. According to the report, the NLRB plans to pay special attention to First Amendment issues involving social media in the upcoming year, but the law firm also cited wage and hour disputes, whistleblower cases, and systemic discrimination investigations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as major areas of probable litigation in the year ahead.

According to the litigation forecast, there is "no end in sight" to wage and hour disputes, including class actions. Wage and hour claims make up the fastest-growing segment of employment law, and the firm expects that trend to continue.

The main areas of wage and hour law that are expected to come before the courts this year, according to the firm, are worker misclassification claims, unpaid overtime and the effects of the decentralized operation of businesses.

From an employer's point of view, a key issue will be hourly workers who, in an excess of devotion to their employers' interests against their own, work after hours and remotely in order to complete their work. These employees, described as "eager" by the law firm representing employers, may feel pressured to work "voluntary" unpaid overtime in order to move up in the organization -- or simply because they are assigned more work than can reasonably be performed in 40 hours but who are forbidden to work overtime.

"While strong workplace policies and periodic audits are part of the solution, they unfortunately are not a panacea," commented one partner at the firm.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "Litigation report sees focus on social media and wage-hour cases," Brendan O'Brien, Jan. 31, 2013

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