Wage and Hour

Companies with U.S. operations face a dramatic rise in the number of wage-and-hour claims, the most common form of employment-related lawsuit in the country. In response, Duane Morris has created a multi-pronged legal services program with a holistic and comprehensive approach to helping clients minimize the risks and costs of wage-and-hour claims. This program includes:

  • Experienced lawyers who provide counseling on all day-to-day items regarding wage-and-hour laws and compliance;
  • Training for companies (including all levels of company stakeholders, from line employees to management to board members) on these issues;
  • A compliance program created and run by practitioners who have both counseled and litigated these claims for decades;
  • A litigation team that litigates not only single-plaintiff wage claims but that has deep and broad experience litigating wage-and-hour class and collective lawsuits, as well as government enforcement actions; and
  • An appellate team that handles all appeal issues in such cases.

Wage-and-Hour Class Actions and Collective Actions

Our wage-and-hour class and collective action team represents companies when they are targeted with class/collective/representative claims. The most common of such claims allege violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and often include state wage-and-hour claims as well. Our team has defended countless similar claims, including claims for:

  • Failure to pay minimum wage
  • Misclassification
  • Independent contractor status
  • Off-the-clock work
  • Overtime
  • Class action waivers in arbitration agreements
  • Other factors

The  Duane Morris team draws on its particular experience in  structuring class action settlements to reduce the risks and costs of protracted litigation wherever possible and appropriate.

California Wage-and-Hour Litigation

Duane Morris’ West Coast Class Action Team has defended numerous companies that have been sued or threatened with wage-and-hour class actions. California is a hotbed for these claims, and we have been defending clients regarding wage-and-hour class action litigation from its onset. Our attorneys’ experience and collective skill have enabled us to create a proactive response strategy that is aimed at eliminating or substantially weakening the lawsuit.

Duane Morris strives to use a small, nimble team of lawyers to defend class action lawsuits, often using only two lawyers working up a case (although every case is different). Our class action lawyers have deep knowledge and experience with California class actions, particularly class claims for:

  • Missed/late meal and rest breaks
  • Misclassification
  • Off-the-clock work
  • Reporting time pay
  • Equipment/business expense reimbursement
  • Pay stubs
  • Class action waivers in arbitration agreements

As employers with enforceable class action waivers in arbitration agreements have garnered more and more successes in defeating class actions, claims under California’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) have increased, as the courts to date have not enforced arbitration agreements related to these claims.

Government Enforcement Actions

The government has greatly increased its focus on wage-and-hour compliance, with many agencies now actively investigating and enforcing companies’ compliance with federal and state wage-and-hour laws. Our team has experience in defending government enforcement actions at conferences and hearings, as well as at the appellate level. Our streamlined response plan to government inquiries include:

  • HR audit of key wage-and-hour practices
  • Obtain written acknowledgments signed by employees stating they have complied with company policy
  • Review of leave-of-absence policies and protocols
  • Review pay practices (overtime and timekeeping)
  • Apply corrective measures and train for compliance

Audit, Compliance and Training Program

Duane Morris created its Audit Comply Train Now (or “ACT NOW”) Program in order to provide tools and resources to clients who want to address wage-and-hour issues proactively. Participation in this program will not only enhance a company’s compliance with wage-and-hour laws, but also can be used as a defense in any litigation where the company is accused of “ignoring” or “purposely” violating wage-and-hour laws.

The program consists of three parts:

  • Audit: Duane Morris conducts audits on all wage-and-hour issues, as needed or requested. If the client prefers to conduct the audit, the firm provides guidance and tools to enable the client to conduct a comprehensive and effective audit. Audits include items, such as background checks, leave administration, pay issues and classification of employees. In California, the team conducts those same audits but also provides audits for meals and rests, pay stubs, sick pay and gender/racial pay equity issues. 
  • Compliance: The firm provides compliance tools and systems to enable the company to obtain and remain in compliance.
  • Training: Duane Morris provides training to all levels of company personnel in order to educate staff and management on compliance with policies and practices.

Counseling

In addition to the counseling services provided as part of the ACT Now program, Duane Morris lawyers provide comprehensive employment law counseling services to clients on a day-to-day basis. We use a collaborative approach in which we work with clients to understand their business needs, risk tolerance and compliance goals. Our advice and counseling team seeks to meet and exceed expectations for responsive, quality and substantive advice that considers the client’s business model and goals. We advise clients on virtually all workplace issues, and for wage-and-hour concerns, our services include:

  • Handbook and policy reviews and updates
  • Payroll and wage laws
  • Time-keeping and time-recording requirements
  • Requirements for personnel files and related business documents
  • Reporting time
  • On-call time
  • Paid sick leave
  • Split shifts
  • Independent contractor status
  • Exempt/non-exempt classification
  • Business expense reimbursements

For Additional Information

For additional information about our Employment Practice, please contact Thomas G. Servodidio or any of the practice members referenced in the Attorney Listing.