With 2021 well underway, experts and forecasters are busy predicting what the year will bring in terms of political changes, economics, and public arenas, like workplaces. Naturally, the pandemic has impacted every facet of life. This and other factors are currently influencing current 2021 workplace litigation trends.
How has COVID-19 Affected Workplace Litigation?
Industries will be affected differently as the pandemic continues. Some companies have faced claims that they violated COVID-19 workplace safety regulations, and there have been cases with employers attempting to retaliate against employees for speaking out about violations. Other businesses have had legal issues pertaining to staff, including rehiring furloughed workers, layoffs, and retaining talent.
Leave and remote work conflicts are also becoming common issues. Employers must be careful when choosing who can return to work, as this could lead to discrimination claims. It is also important to keep up with government safety recommendations and to communicate these to all employees in a timely fashion. Companies that provide the vaccine to employees can use this to retain and attract talent; however, requiring employees to show proof of vaccination before returning to work could lead to litigation.
Will Wage and Hour Litigation Increase?
The standard 40-hour work week could soon become a thing of the past, as companies have become more flexible about working hours. Gartner’s Reimagine HR Employee Survey showed companies that provide flexible hours and working locations saw 55 percent of high-performance rates. It is thought that more employers will be measuring employee productivity by actual output instead of the number of hours and locale.
With so many people working from home, having reduced hours, and being furloughed, it is not surprising that worker misclassification and timekeeping errors have been trending upward. It is more difficult to record working hours when employees are at home. One report claims that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will be prioritizing wage theft enforcement; there has also been minimum wage increases for 25 states this year. There are other regulatory changes and key state initiatives as well.
How Do Government Regulations Factor in?
Another study showed that government agencies, including the DOL, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), brought fewer legal actions in 2020 when compared to previous years. Nevertheless, the EEOC recovered $535.4 million last year for alleged discrimination victims. It is thought that the new presidential administration is likely to focus on administering employment litigation. There could be more regulation of businesses, assertive enforcement of workplace laws, and a possible expansion of workers’ rights.
What Other Trends are Significant?
As workplace environments evolve, it is important to note other changes that may be on the way. The pandemic has provided business leadership with more visibility into their employees’ personal lives, helping companies understand how home lives impact work performance. Employees who feel that their companies support their personal lives also perform better. As an example, if a worker with a seriously ill child was allowed to work remotely until further notice, they might perform better than if they had to report to an office.
Employee monitoring is another trend to watch. Over 25 percent of companies surveyed had invested in new technology to track and monitor their employees through passive means. Meanwhile, respondents admitted that they were not sure of the best ways to protect employee privacy while using the technology. This can erode away at employee trust, especially if the data is not shared with them. This year, there will be new state and local regulations about limiting what employers may track and monitor.
Philadelphia Employment Litigation Defense Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients with Employment Litigation
If your company is facing employment litigation, turn to the skilled Philadelphia employment litigation defense lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will protect your best interests and provide skilled legal representation if needed. Complete our online form or call 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we help clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.