A large number of employers who have branches in New York have been subjected to lawsuits because of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to economic reports released earlier this month. Among those facing significant sanctions include Wal-Mart, Burger King, Dollar Tree, Hallmark and Chrysler, according to official reports.

As a result of the increased number of suits, American courts are attempting to continually define the boundaries of employer rights while maintaining the burden of employer responsibilities, especially in those cases that are not settled. Some of the cases are also arbitrated, which means that they do not go to trial or a judge decision.

Earlier this month, the auto firm Chrysler was required to pay $3.5 million to an employee who alleged racial discrimination. That employee, who had worked at the company for 20 years, had been subjected to racial slurs and graffiti throughout the plant where he worked. He also reported receiving death threats on the job. Chrysler was found liable for the problems because supervisors did not quickly address the harassment problems, according to legal experts.

Authorities report that complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have risen by 7 percent during the past two years, bringing the number of employment suits to nearly 100,000 in 2011. More than $400 million were given to employees as the result of discrimination in 2010 alone.

In addition to the increased number of discrimination cases, more employees are filing for unpaid wages than ever before. During the first half of 2012, about 7,000 suits were filed under FLSA; that is the same number as those that were filed during the whole year in 2011. It is unclear exactly why these problems are persisting, but experts say that new definitions of the word "disabled," along with easier access to legal representation and a waning economy, may have sparked the civil suit trend.

Source: about.com, "Chrysler, Disney, Wal-Mart and Burger King the Latest Retail Targets of Employee Lawsuits - Discrimination, ADA, and Fair Labor Lawsuits Increase Rapidly," Barbara Farfan, Aug. 31, 2012

• Our firm works with people facing the issues that were discussed in this post. For more information, please visit our New York City FLSA page.