What Explains the Drop In Employment Lawsuits?
Portfolio Media has a newswire service for lawyers that regularly provides useful and helpful information for a variety of legal niches. They carry an article yesterday (subscription required) reporting that over the last three years there have been decreasing numbers of labor and employment lawsuits filed in federal courts. They survey suits brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act, civil rights suits, and ERISA. Employment litigation over the last year fell by 9% and has dropped by 17% over the last three years. ERISA litigation fell by 6% last year and has decreased by 21% over the last three years.
What could be the reason for the drop in litigation? Two lawyers who regularly work defending employers against these suits say ". . . the overall decline demonstrates that employers have modified the way they deal with workers to address the issues that lead to higher numbers of new actions being filed." Or, as the headline to the story reads, filings have fallen because employers have "wised up."
Hmmm. Well, perhaps there is an element of employer wising up, whatever that means, at work here. But wouldn't it have added something to the story to get the input of the folks who are responsible for the filings to find out what they think are the reasons for the decline? I mean, they are the ones who are actually making the decisions about whether or not to bring the suits, aren't they?
The defense lawyers, Brian Greig and Patrick Ritchey, attribute the drop in ERISA filings to, in part, claimant lawyers waiting for the Supreme Court's ruling in LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg & Associates. There may be something to that. But I think it would have helped to get some insight from the people on the other side of the table.