Collective Actions under the FLSA: Will there be an increase in 2016?

Now that 2015 has nearly come to an end, will collective actions and other cases filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) increase or decrease in 2016.  In recent years,  the number of cases has increased, and 2015 saw a record number of case filings, which saw 8,731 new cases filed.  The number of these cases has risen dramatically.  In 2004, there were 3,617 cases filed, in 2007 there were 7,310, and in 2012 there were 8,152 cases filed, which was the previous record amount of cases.  With the numbers continuing to rise, it’s fairly certain that they will continue to rise in 2016. 




-          USDOL proposed changes to the “white collar” exemptions to the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements.  On June 30, 2015, the proposed changes were announced that will nearly double the minimum salary requirement for “white collar” exemption.  The proposed change would go from $455 per week to $970 per week, which could see around 4.7 million workers affected be these changes.  With the high number of people affected by the changes to the FLSA, it is more likely to result in a significant number of alleged and actual violations of the FLSA, so an increase of FLSA cases is likely.


-          USDOL’s “Home Care Rule” came into effect on October 13, 2015.  The rule narrows the “companionship services” exemption to the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements where it eliminates the exemption for home care workers.  The USDOL has projected that this rule will affect about 2 million workers.


-          The lawfulness of unpaid internships continues to be scrutinized nationally.  With recent decisions in the Second and Eleventh Circuits, there will continuously be challenges under the FLSA.


-          App-based companies like Uber and Lyft, who classify their employees as independent contractors continue to face scrutiny over their classification of workers.  Look for further litigation against other “on-demand” companies.


-          Minimum wages are continuing to rise.  In 2016, 16 states and the District of Columbia will raise their minimum wage, with Washington, D.C. raising it the highest to $11.50 per hour.