Rules regarding class certification can sometimes seem obscure and obtuse. These rules can have a considerable impact on multi-million dollar litigation, however. Due to the high cost and long period needed to defend against a class-action lawsuit, these cases are often won and lost at the class certification stage with defendants trying to settle cases quickly if they lose the battle to decertify a class.
There are many reasons why an employer may want to prevent employees from discussing their wages, salaries, bonuses, or other compensation. Pay disparities - even if based on differences in experience, training, or pay - can disrupt the working environment and lead to unhappy employees. Such discussions may lead to an increase in the number of employees demanding raises and seeking new positions if not granted. In the worst-case scenario, the information can lead to discrimination lawsuits with the high legal fees and detrimental reputation damage that such lawsuits cause.
Employment-related legislation continues to be a hot topic around the country. A number of state legislators have passed aggressive laws aimed at impacting employer-employee relationships. One of the most unique and far-reaching of these laws was just signed into law in the State of New Jersey. On August 16, 2019, the New Jersey Wage Theft Act became law.
Medical marijuana is still a controversial subject in the field of employment, even as it becomes less controversial generally. Thirty-three states now provide for legal medical marijuana. Many of those states legalized medical marijuana after the success of ballot measures in statewide elections. At the same time, the drug remains a controlled substance at the federal level and the Controlled Substances Act states that marijuana has no commonly accepted medical usage.
State governments have started to take strong action against what they view as unfair employment practices. Legislatures are passing new laws about hiring practices quite frequently over the last few years. These laws seek to create greater fairness in the hiring and salary negotiation process in order to overcome inequalities such as the gender pay gap and other issues.
For the past several years, attempts at the federal and state level to clarify rules on joint employment situations have caused considerable heartburn and anxiety for employers. While several states and the Obama administration attempted to broaden the situations in which companies could be held liable for joint employers, other states and the Trump administration have pushed back and sought to protect many types of companies from being held accountable as joint employers.
No employer wants to face a class action lawsuit. Defending a class action lawsuit is an extremely costly endeavor, one where the legal fees begin mounting very early in the process. Such lawsuits often take far longer than traditional litigation to reach a resolution. Cases can easily take five to ten years before the final trial begins. These two factors often force class action defendants into settlement early in the proceedings if they cannot win dismissal of the case at one of the preliminary proceedings.
Employment contracts are different from most other types of commercial contracts. A host of unique rules apply to employment contracts. At the end of the day, though, they are still contracts and must adhere to the basic rules of contracts, even if those rules are sometimes applied in different ways. This is particularly true when discussing non-compete clauses.
In the aftermath of California’s aggressive attempts to crack down on the “gig” economy, other states have moved as well, though often in different directions. While many states have moved to pass laws specifically designed to protect the status of “gig” workers, New Jersey is in the process of passing its own attempt to regulate these workers. Indeed, the proposed New Jersey legislation would go so far that it would classify almost all workers in the state as employees and make it incredibly difficult for someone to claim independent contractor status.
There has been an ongoing fight over how to define employees for the past few decades. As technology has re-shaped the workforce, this fight has gotten more intense. State and federal governments have struggled to set clear lines dividing independent contractors from employees for a number of purposes, including taxation and the application of workplace benefits. These benefits and taxes add on average 20% to 30% to the cost of hiring and paying a worker.