Seyfarth Synopsis: On February 6, 2018, Seyfarth Shaw Partner Jerry Maatman and Bloomberg Law Senior Legal Editor Perry Cooper presented a timely event on “Top Trends In Workplace Class Action Litigation Panel Discussion.” The discussions focused on views of cutting edge issues relative to the workplace class action litigation landscape. With over 1,000 people attending either in person at our Chicago office or via our live Webcast, Maatman and Cooper’s discussion was a “must see” for representatives of businesses across the country.
Following Seyfarth Shaw’s recent launch of its 2018 Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, Jerry Maatman distilled the 900-page publication into key trends and takeaways on the most important developments impacting employers from the past year in class action litigation, as well as future trends that businesses should keep on their radar. Perry Cooper added further in-depth analysis relative to many of the key U.S. Supreme Court cases affecting employment law and class actions, which she has been tracking and writing about extensively on Bloomberg’s behalf.
The engaging discussion focused on four key trends that were identified in the 2018 Workplace Class Action Litigation Report, including: (1) the monetary value of the top workplace class action settlements rose dramatically in 2017; (2) while federal and state courts issued many favorable class certification rulings for the plaintiffs’ bar in 2017, evolving case law precedents and new defense approaches resulted in better outcomes for employers in opposing class certification requests; (3) filings and settlements of government enforcement litigation in 2017 did not reflect a head-snapping pivot from the ideological pro-worker (or anti-big business) outlook of the Obama Administration to a pro-business, less regulation/less litigation viewpoint of the Trump Administration; and (4) class action litigation increasingly has been shaped and influenced by recent rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Maatman provided several noteworthy takeaways, including three highlights:
- 2017 was “by far the largest cash-take for plaintiffs’ lawyers” ever in terms of workplace class actions settlements, as the top ten settlements in various employment-related class action categories totaled $2.72 billion in 2017, a “breathtaking and remarkable” increase of over $970 million from $1.75 billion in 2016. Check out how Jerry explained the importance of this increase in settlements by clicking the video below!
- In 2018, “as the government’s administration is getting settled in,” employers should anticipated seeing, “smaller governmental enforcement lawsuits brought on behalf of a smaller number of employees.”
- Regarding the recent onslaught of workplace sexual harassment accusations and investigations in the context of the #MeToo campaign, “although headlines in the paper may be very difficult to stomach for some employers, and the piper must be paid in a certain respect, I’m not convinced it will be through successful prosecution of class action litigation insofar as sex harassment is concerned. That theory will run smack into the Rule 23 barriers created by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.”
Overall, Maatman and Cooper’s discussion left little doubt that 2018 will be an eventful year in terms of the workplace class action arena. Employers should anticipate that the private plaintiffs’ bar and government enforcement attorneys at the state level are apt to be equally, if not more, aggressive in 2018 in bringing class action and collective action litigation against employers. As such, businesses absolutely should stay tuned in regarding developments in this space.
Thank you to everyone who joined us either here in Chicago or via our live webcast. For those interested in viewing a video of the presentation, stay tuned. We will be posting a complete video of the event this week.