Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Corporate America's Employment Law Concerns

JllogoThe Association of Corporate Counsel and the Jackson Lewis law firm have released the results of their annual In-House Counsel Workplace survey. According to the press release, employment issues are a major concern to companies. And among those issues are the changes employers see coming in the next few years. A majority of respondents believed that who becomes our next president will affect the labor and employment laws, but a sizeable minority did not expect that to have an impact.

Among the potential changes cited by respondents were the possibility of increased costs for health benefits and mandatory paid sick days; a resurgence of workplace regulation generally; and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would eliminate secret ballots in union organizing drives and strengthen labor's hand in negotiations over union representation.

These things aside, the survey tracked what day-to-day challenges corporate counsel faced,

On day-to-day challenges, corporate counsel cited workplace discrimination as the most time-consuming employment issue, followed by family and medical leave, wages and hours, and employee benefits. The most demanding issue for corporate legal department was cited as harassment/discrimination prevention and compliance, followed by Family and Medical Leave Act compliance and wage and hour compliance. Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Sarbanes-Oxley rounded out the top five.

And on litigation in particular,

nearly three-quarters of corporate counsel surveyed said their companies had faced employment-related litigation over the past three years, with discrimination complaints being the most frequent.

According to the survey, 73.5 percent of the corporate counsel said their companies had been a defendant in employment-related litigation over the last three years. More than half of those, or 52.6 percent, said they had faced discrimination complaints, with wage and hour complaints being the second most frequent at 27.0 percent.

As to the number of discrimination complaints, 42.4 percent of respondents said they had remained steady over the past three years, while 27.2 percent had seen an increase and 11.1 percent had seen a decrease.

E-discovery rules, too, have complicated matters by changing the way some companies handle electronic records and data and by increasing the expense and difficulty of litigation management for some.

At the same time, over half of the respondents reported that they did not anticipate any reductions in force in the near future and a large majority did not anticipate increased outsourcing of jobs.



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