Wage and hour claims are made every day. In 2021 the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that over 230 million dollars in back wages were owed to employees nationwide. According to a recent report from law firm Seyfarth Shaw, the top 10 wage and hour class actions in 2019 totaled $449.05 million. These cases were filed in California, Utah, Arizona, New Jersey, and Missouri.
Whether an organization is facing a potential wage claim or a worker has just filed a claim, mediation can be the best way to resolve the matter.
When it comes to mediating a wage and hour claim, what is the best way to prepare to ensure a higher likelihood of reaching a resolution that is favorable to both parties?
- Prepare a mediation brief.
- Bring relevant documentation to support or defend claims, such as employee handbooks, waiver forms, work schedules, time records, and paystubs pertaining to the relevant periods.
- Know how to calculate compensation such as minimum and/or overtime wages, meal and rest wages, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties, and other statutory penalties, e.g., dishonored checks (bounced checks).
- Utilize Excel spreadsheets to organize data or calculate wages due.
- Ensure decision-makers are present during the mediation.
- Consider your best, worst, or most likely alternatives to a negotiated agreement (BATNA, WATNA, and MLATNA).
- Prepare your client by discussing what to expect in mediation – How long the mediation may take, the process of negotiating;
- Do a cost-benefit analysis by asking meaningful questions – How adequate will your evidence be in the future? What impact will this case have on everyone involved? How will litigation or a judgment impact each party? What is the financial cost of going to trial?
- Know how long your case will potentially take to get to trial.
- Prepare a memorandum of understanding or proposed settlement agreement – consider allocations for tax purposes of potential settlement funds.
- Consider many options on how to resolve the matter. Be open to creative solutions.
- Get plenty of rest the night before.
- Be prepared to negotiate with a positive attitude.