The courts of the United States have seen an exponential rise in the number of wage and hour lawsuits that get filed every year, but the cause of this rise is unclear. Worker advocates allege that “wage theft” has become far too prevalent in our nation’s current economy. Many blame the recent recession, which pressured employers to cut corners in order to save costs. At the same time, employees were afraid of losing their jobs and being unable to find new employment. The result was that employers took advantage of the situation to get more work out of their employees while paying them less. It is only since the job market started to stabilize that employees have felt confident enough to file lawsuits against their employers.
Business advocates tell a different story. They assert that government officials are creating large numbers of wage and hour lawsuits, mostly so they can score points with the unions. They point to the fact that the recent wage and hour lawsuit against Schneider Logistics coincided with unions pressuring Walmart to raise wages. Although Schneider does store merchandise for Walmart, it is not owned by Walmart, and Walmart is not responsible for Schneider’s employment practices. Despite this fact, the lawyers and labor groups involved in the lawsuit against Schneider have sought to make Walmart jointly liable in the labor violations.
Business groups also claim that the onslaught of wage and hour lawsuits against McDonald’s has been coordinated with the recent movement by fast-food workers demanding a $15 minimum wage. Continue reading