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Employers' Payouts Surge to Settle Claims Over Worker Treatment

"U.S. employers are shelling out more money than ever to resolve legal fights over their treatment of workers," declares the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 10, Lublin). Settlements from the 10 largest class-action suits reached a record $2.72 billion in 2017, calculates Seyfarth Shaw LLP -- a sharp increase from $1.75 billion a year earlier. Many 2017 settlements involved wage-and-hour violations such as insufficient pay or underfunded pension plans, the firm's 885-page report shows.  "Among the biggest was a $227 million payment by FedEx Corp. following a fight over whether its delivery drivers were employees or independent contractors," recalls the Journal. Looking ahead, management and plaintiffs' attorneys anticipate an increase in the number of suits over sexual harassment.  Costly class-action settlements can hurt companies' market share and reputation.

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