• Increased Workforce Cuts and Associated Lawsuits Top 2003 Forecast by World's Largest Employment Law Practice Network -- ELA Global Survey Reflects Intense Concerns Over Fallout From Deeper Job Cuts
  • May 6, 2003
  • Law Firm: Miller Nash LLP - Portland Office
  • Hundreds of the world's leading experts in employment and labor law think that continued workforce cuts, accompanied by a flood of wrongful-practice allegations, including claims of age discrimination and whistleblower retaliation, will be the hottest workplace legal issues in the new year, according to a new survey by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA) released in late December.

    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 across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Asked to predict the leading workplace legal issues for 2003, the American-based ELA members ranked their top five hot spots as:

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

    ELA Oregon member Sharon Toncray, a partner at Miller Nash LLP in Portland, said the 2003 Employment Law Forecast is significant because it represents the opinions of expert practitioners who are closest to global workplace issues, from the shop floor to the corporate boardroom.

    Mary Petersen, ELA Washington member and a partner at Miller Nash's Seattle office, says "There's no question that 2003 is going to be another very busy year for employment lawyers, which is not necessarily good news for employers or employees."

    Looking back at 2002, 45 percent of the ELA lawyers polled said there was a modest increase in workplace-related litigation. However, nearly 80 percent of that litigation involved workforce reductions. The next-largest reason for the litigation increase was that unemployed workers were having a harder time finding work after their termination.

    There are some hopeful signs in the forecast. For example, 42 percent of the ELA members think employers will be spending more time addressing ethics issues at the board and executive levels. Increased workplace compliance is expected to produce fewer claims involving safety and health disputes, sexual harassment claims, and disputes over disability accommodations.

    Miller Nash is the Oregon and Washington representative for the Employment Law Alliance, the world's largest integrated, global practice network, comprised of premier, independent law firms distinguished for their practice in employment and labor law. There are member firms in every major city in the United States, every province in Canada, and in major commercial centers throughout the world. For further information, including access to the survey charts and graphs, visit www.employmentlawalliance.com.