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Objection! Employee Lawsuits on the Rise

Objection! Employee Lawsuits on the Rise
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Unhappy employees are taking their displeasure to the court system.

Nearly 50 percent ofhuman resources professionals, C-suite executives and in-house counsel said that current economic conditions are leading disenchanted employees to bring more lawsuits or claims against their employers. That's an increase of 25 percentage points from a year ago, according to a new study from Littler, an employment and labor law practice representing management.

Discrimination and harassment is the area in which those surveyed have seen the most employee lawsuits or class actions during the past year. Wrongful-termination claims and wage and hour lawsuits have also been popular.

"The rise in the degree to which respondents are seeing lawsuits from disgruntled employees is a troubling finding for employers," Barry Hartstein, co-chairman of Littler's equal employment opportunity and diversity practice, said in a statement. "Even if the claims are frivolous, they can be costly, distracting and time-consuming to defend."

In addition to employee lawsuits, there are several other areas in which employers are having trouble managing their workforce. Specifically, 88 percent said they were concerned with employee retention, while 86 percent expressed concerns with social media and employee privacy. Preventing abuse of employee leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act and similar laws, as well as managing generational differences between younger and older employees, were other challenging areas for employers.

The study also discovered that workplace privacy is a growing area of concern among employers, especially as more companies incorporate new technology policies and data breaches continue to plague businesses.

Specifically, avoiding workplace and data security breaches, and safeguarding customer and corporate data without unlawfully accessing employees' personal information as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs become increasingly common, are the top workplace privacy concerns among employers.

Laws and legislation prohibiting employers from requesting criminal-history information or restricting the use of credit information for employment purposes was also a top worry for businesses.

"It's not surprising that data breaches and issues surrounding BYOD programs are among the top concerns for employers, as the protection of sensitive information is critical in today's technology-driven workplace," said Philip Gordon, chairman of Littler's privacy and background-check practice. "Interestingly, respondents expressed the lowest level of concern with being able to monitor employees' personal social media activity, with a mere 6 percentranking this astheir top concern, despite the proliferation of state laws that restrict employers from accessing employees' social media passwords."

The study was based on surveys of 500 U.S. in-house counsel, human resources professionals and C-suite executives.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.