Lawyer Survey Predicts 2003 HR Legal 'Hot Spots'

December 23, 2002 ( - A survey sponsored by an employment lawyer group predicts continued layoffs along with age discrimination claims and whistleblower retaliation will dominate the workplace legal scene in 2003.

Charles Huddleston, chair of the Employment Law Practice at Atlanta law firm Arnall Golden Gregory, said the new Employment Law Alliance (ELA) survey shows how important it is for employers to stay current on age discrimination and whistleblower law.

Asked to predict the leading workplace legal issues for 2003, the Atlanta-based ELA members ranked their top five hot spots as follows:

  • layoffs and other reductions in force
  • family and medical leave requests
  • whistleblower claims
  • age discrimination claims
  • national origin discrimination claims

But there are some hopeful signs in the forecast. For example, 42% of ELA members think employers will spend 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 and disputes over disability accommodations, according to the survey.

Looking back over 2002, 45% of the ELA lawyers polled said there was a modest increase in workplace-related litigation. However, nearly 80% of that litigation increase involved workforce reductions.

The second biggest reason for litigation growth this year over 2001 was the fact that unemployed workers were having a harder time finding work after their termination, according to the survey.

The ELA 2003 Employment Law Forecast , conducted by the opinion research firm Reed, Haldy, McIntosh & Associates, surveyed more than 550 labor and employment law attorneys in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.