A 25% Increase in Employee Lawsuits Against Employers This Year

According to a new study from labor law practitioner Littler, nearly 50 percent of C-suite executives, HR professionals and in-house attorneys said that the stagnant economy is motivating disenchanted employees to bring more lawsuits or claims against their employers. That’s an increase of 25 percentage points from a year ago.

Co-chair of Littler’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity practice Barry Hartstein said in a statement,”The rise in the degree to which respondents are seeing lawsuits from disgruntled employees is a troubling finding for employers. Even if the claims are frivolous, they can be costly, distracting and time-consuming to defend.”

Discrimination and harassment are the areas in which most lawsuits or class actions during the past year have taken place. In addition to employee lawsuits, there are several other areas in which employers are having trouble managing their workforce.

Management is rightfully tuned in to the trend. 88 percent said they were concerned with employee retention and 86 percent specified concerns over social media and employee privacy. Laws and legislation prohibiting employers from requesting criminal-history information or restricting the use of credit information for employment purposes was also a top worry for businesses.
Philip Gordon, chairman of Littler’s Privacy and Background Check practice: “It’s not surprising that data breaches and issues surrounding BYOD programs are among the top concerns for employers, as the protection of sensitive information is critical in today’s technology-driven workplace. Interestingly, respondents expressed the lowest level of concern with being able to monitor employees’ personal social media activity, with a mere 6 percent ranking this as their top concern, despite the proliferation of state laws that restrict employers from accessing employees’ social media passwords.”

The study was based on surveys of 500 U.S. in-house counsel, human resources professionals and C-suite executives.

In a business climate like the one we have in 2014, don’t get legally blindsided by disgruntled employees. Trust your gut and contact a qualified employment lawyer sooner rather than later.

– Peter Muzinich
Reicker, Pfau, McRoy LLP

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