Date: January 10, 2018

Law360 interviewed TELG principal Nicholas Woodfield about a report predicting that the Trump administration will pursue fewer class action lawsuits to enforce workplace laws, and that plaintiff-side law firms will pick up the slack. Nick said that may be true in part — but that government neglect may allow some worthy cases to fall through the cracks.

The EEOC "is going to be less of a presence going forward." Some class action cases will be picked up by the plaintiff's bar, but "whether they *all* will is unclear."

Nicholas Woodfield

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Plaintiffs Will Pick Up Labor Enforcement Slack: Study

The Trump administration’s expected pullback from big-ticket enforcement litigation will fuel more private lawsuits from plaintiffs firms seeking to “fill the void,” according to a Seyfarth Shaw LLP report issued Wednesday that also found the value of the 10 top workplace class action settlements reached a record $2.7 billion last year.

In 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission more than doubled the number of merits cases it filed from the prior year, including an increased number of high-impact cases alleging systemic violations, according to the management-side law firm’s annual Workplace Class Action Litigation report.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recovered more than $270 million in back pay for hundreds of thousands of workers last year, the report said. Agency figures show that is $4 million increase from 2016.

Overall, the report found that the top 10 settlements in government enforcement litigation increased nearly tenfold from $52.3 million in 2016 to over $485 million in 2017.

Gerald L. Maatman, a Seyfarth partner and the report’s author, attributed the enforcement scrutiny to a holdover of cases from the Obama administration, adding that the process for getting Trump administration nominees confirmed to key labor agency posts was slow and kept new agency priorities from taking hold.

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