A Review of the Top Employment Class Action Issues of 2018

What were some of the most important employment class action cases of 2018?

The year 2018 brought about some important developments in the field of employment law, particularly when it came to class action lawsuits.  Employment laws were amended in 2018, while one category of employment class action lawsuits surged.  Critical U.S. Supreme Court cases refined and revised laws pertaining to employment class action cases.  All in all, 2018 was a crucial year for employers and employees alike, as well as all those involved in the employment law industry.  Our NYC employment ligation lawyer at Thomas M. Lancia PLLC explores some of the top developments to employment class action cases this past year below. 

Sexual Harassment Cases On the Rise 

The year 2018 saw a sharp uptick in the number of sexual harassment cases, including class actions against companies that were alleged to create an atmosphere of sexual discrimination.  Since the Weinstein scandal emerged, headlines have abounded with stories of sexual harassment in the workplace.  Employers have taken note and many have attempted to refine their policies regarding sexual harassment to ward of any potential allegations of discrimination. 

Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Clauses Upheld 

Perhaps the most notable employment law class action cases to emerge in 2018 were the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-285; Ernst & Young LLP et al. v. Morris et al., No. 16-300; and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., et al., No. 16-307 (May 21, 2018).  The Supreme Court took up these cases to decide a critical circuit split as to whether class action waivers, commonly contained within employment arbitration agreements, violate the National Labor Relations Act.  In a 5-4 decision, the court found these agreements are enforceable, potentially preventing many employees from seeking class action certification. 


Department of Labor Eliminates 80/20 Rule 

In November of 2018, the Department of Labor issued several opinion letters that seem to indicate a reversed position on the so-called 80/20 rule. Previously, the DOL had expressed support for the 80/20 rule, which held that tipped employees should not receive a tip credit if they spend more than 20 percent of their time performing non-tip generating duties.  The rule had given rise to a number of class action lawsuits and much controversy. Now, the DOL has stated that it does not support the rule and does not intend to limit the duties related to tip-producing tasks.  More clarification will still likely be needed on the issue.