Fair Labor Standards Act Lawsuits Down From 2015 Peak
The government reported 1,847 new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) civil filings during the first quarter of FY 2018. This compares with 1,870 such filings during the first quarter of FY 2017 and 2,203 FLSA lawsuits filed in the first quarter of FY 2016. If the pattern established during the current fiscal year continues through September, this may be the third year in a row that such lawsuits will have modestly declined. See Table 1.
Fiscal Year 2015 marked a high point in such litigation with a total of 8,917 new lawsuits filed since employment levels tumbled after the 2008 financial crisis. By the end of FY 2017, this number had declined 11.9 percent to 7,858. The pace of filings in October - December 2017 would suggest that this volume may fall farther to around 7,388.
The FLSA established minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector as well as in federal, state, and local governments. The comparisons of the number of civil filings for Fair Labor Standards Act related suits are based on case-by-case court records from the federal courts which were compiled and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
The long-term trend in Fair Labor Standards Act civil filings going back to FY 2008 is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of FLSA lawsuits recorded each fiscal year.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
Relative to population, the volume of civil matters of this type filed in federal district courts during the first quarter of 2018 was 22.8 per every million persons in the United States on an annualized basis. Understandably, there is great variation in both the number of filings and the per capita filings rate in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The Southern District of Florida (Miami) and the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) had the highest concentration of these suits both during FY 2017 and continuing through the first quarter of FY 2018. South Florida held the top rank in terms of the sheer number of filings with 1,075 new suits during FY 2017 and 265 filings during the first quarter of FY 2018. Relative to population, the Southern District of New York had the highest per capita rate in the country. Its number of filings was 822 during FY 2017 and 215 during the first quarter of FY 2018. Relative to population size, both districts had more than six times the national average.
The other three districts in the top five for both periods based upon the number of FLSA filings were: the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn), the Middle District of Florida (Tampa), and the Southern District of Texas (Houston). Table 1 provides the number of filings, rate of filings, and ranking for each district.
Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.