The Wage & Hour Defense Institute (WHDI) of the
Litigation Counsel of America is comprised of highly talented and experienced
wage and hour defense attorneys from across the United States.
Wage and hour litigation, and in particular class and
collective actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
and companion state laws, has increased significantly in recent years.
With increased frequency, litigation has been brought challenging an
employee’s status as exempt from the FLSA’s requirements
to pay overtime and minimum wage. Jury verdicts and settlements have
fueled the trend, as employees have recovered large amounts of money
– often millions of dollars – based on allegations that
employers misclassified them as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime
and minimum wage requirements. So too, in recent years, there has been
increased litigation by employees claiming that they were forced to
work “off the clock” and to miss meal and rest breaks, engage
in pre-shift or post-shift work, or even work at home without regular
rate of pay for the purpose of paying overtime compensation. Employees
whose pay includes tips or commissions bring a special set of problems
as well. As employees often attempt to band together in class and collective
actions, the exposure in these cases can be extremely significant.
The new wave of wage and hour litigation has also seen
an increase in lawsuits brought alleging misclassification as independent
contractors, a complex issue given to the interwoven state and federal
employment and tax laws. Here too, misclassification could result in
class actions with individuals seeking unpaid wages, overtime, and benefits.
The WHDI serves as a nationwide network and meeting
ground for top-tier practitioners to engage in professional development
in what has become a highly nuanced area of the law, and also to become
an established resource for employers on wage and hour matters. Each
member was selected for membership in the WHDI based on his or her individual
skills and experience representing management in the defense of wage
and hour litigation. WHDI members also actively counsel employers on
classification determinations and payroll practices so as to proactively
avoid litigation, using tools such as “audits” to examine
an employees’ classification as exempt or non-exempt or whether
certain activities are compensable or non-compensable and whether overtime
has been properly calculated.
The Institute holds periodic conferences, meetings
and colloquia for purposes of advancing defense techniques, methods
and approaches, and broadening its members’ role and influence
in wage and hour law and policy.
The WHDI's Members at its Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 2013. Left to right: Aaron Buckley, Bryant Banes, Al Vreeland, Fred Plevin, Paul Peralta, Rob Boonin, Jon Keselenko, Susan Eisenberg, Malani Kotchka, Andy Naylor, Tracey Donesky, Larry Peikes, Paul Bittner, Frank Neuner, Joe Tilson and Mike Killeen. Not pictured: John Ho, Jason Reisman, David Fortney, Eric Hemmendinger, Jennifer Williams, Dennis McClelland, Reed Russell, Carrie Hoffman, Jeremy Glenn, Mike Delaney, Eric Kelly, Paul Garry, Bernie Siebert, Dan McCoy and Carol Bernick.