Wage And Hour Lawsuits Against Employers Rise For The Fifth Year In A Row

A new report says the number of wage-and-hour lawsuits filed against U.S. employers in federal court has increased 10 percent this year. It’s the fifth year in a row that the suits have increased, according to law firm Seyfarth Shaw.

The report notes that this is a fairly recent trend:

The first major spike in cases occurred in 2003, when the number of such suits nearly doubled from 2,035 to 4,055. They shot up again in 2007, to 6,786 suits.

Though the number of actions dropped off the following year, to 5,302 in 2008, they have been climbing steadily ever since.

The climb can be seen in this graphic:

These are cases alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and typically fall under three categories: salaried employees claiming they are owed overtime pay, hourly workers who claim they weren’t paid for all of their hours, and restaurant workers who claim they weren’t given additional pay to make up for when tips didn’t bring their overall pay to the minimum wage.


Violations of wage and hour laws have become widespread in today’s economy. Sixty-eight percent of low-wage workers interviewed for a report in 2009 said they had experienced a pay violation in the previous work week, including 26 percent who were paid under the minimum wage and 76 percent who didn’t receive overtime pay.

Suits have similarly risen, jumping 400 percent in the last decade. And they’ve seen a surge during the recession in particular as employers cut corners looking to cut costs.