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December 30, 2002
Employment Lawyers Expect More Lawsuits in 2003
Hundreds of employment and labor law experts think continued workforce cuts, accompanied by a flood of wrongful practice allegations, including claims of illegal termination, age and sex discrimination, will be the most common workplace legal issues in the new year, according to a new survey by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA).

The ELA 2003 Employment Law Forecast, conducted by the opinion research firm of Reed, Haldy, McIntosh & Associates, surveyed more than 550 leading labor and employment law attorneys throughout the world whose clients are involved in the global marketplace. Asked to predict the leading workplace legal issues for 2003, the ELA members ranked layoffs and other workforce reductions at the top of their list. Other issues that are expected to increase significantly in 2003 include:

  • Layoffs and other reductions in force
  • Family and medical leave requests
  • Whistle-blower claims
  • Age discrimination claims
  • National origin discrimination claims

"There's no question that 2003 is going to be another very busy year for employment lawyers around the world, which is not necessarily good news for employers or employees," says Stephen J. Hirschfeld, founder and CEO of the ELA. "For the second year in a row we're looking at the prospect of increased labor reductions. What is most troubling, based on the survey results, is that even though the reductions in force appear inevitable, employers are planning on doing relatively little in the way of training and education to minimize their legal and financial exposure. Our advice is for companies to think twice and not be pennywise and pound foolish when it comes to setting their priorities for managing reductions."

Hirschfeld says he has worked with several large, multinational companies in diverse industries who have "rededicated themselves to preventive strategies as a way of successfully reducing their claims and costs of litigation."

While the survey shows expected geographical regional differences, the ELA lawyers are in accord when predicting that the largest increase in workplace-related litigation will result from continued workforce reductions. And they also predict that litigation will increase as workers face a harder time finding work after their termination.

"It is a universal given that when times get tough, for both troubled companies and terminated workers, litigation often becomes an attractive option to generate revenue," says Hirschfeld.


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