Workplace discrimination being replaced by wage and hour lawsuits

When many people in New York City think about employment law, they may think of workplace discrimination. Although workplace discrimination is still a serious problem in even some of the biggest companies, a 2011 ruling by the Supreme Court has made it much harder for workers to file class-action lawsuits based on workplace discrimination. That doesn’t mean that wronged employees can’t still receive compensation for discriminatory practices, just that they may have to work a little harder to win them.

With that being said, The Wall Street Journal reports that there has been a shift away from workplace discrimination lawsuits toward wage and hour claims. Many employees are filing lawsuits claiming that their employers have withheld overtime pay; have misclassified them, which means they are receiving less money than they should; or that their employers just aren’t paying them their hourly wage or salary. Like workplace discrimination lawsuits, wage and hour lawsuits can hold employers responsible for shortchanging their employees.

According to one labor and employment professional, there were approximately 10 percent more wage and hour lawsuits filed in 2013 than in 2012. And with relatively friendly laws to workers in New York, it is unlikely that this increase in wage and hour claims is going to change anytime soon.

Like any kind of employment lawsuit, however, wage and hour lawsuits can be quite complex. They may be won on complex arguments about relatively narrow definitions or through a focused review of accounts and hours. Working with an employment lawyer is one way to put the best case forward and to hold an employer responsible for wronging an employee.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Law 2014: Within Employment Discrimination, It’s a Wage-and-Hour World,” Ashby Jones, Dec. 30, 2014

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