On April 6, 2021, the total number of COVID-19-related employment complaints filed in United States courts passed the 2,000 mark.  Although it took eight months to reach the first 1,000 complaints (March–November 2020), it took less than five months to go from 1,000 to 2,000. Indeed, December 2020 through March 2021 included the four busiest months for new COVID-19-related employment complaints since the start of the pandemic.

As the country accelerates past the 2,000-complaint milestone, we note the following facts and trends using Jackson Lewis’ COVID-19 Employment LitWatch:

  • States with the most complaints filed are California (487), New Jersey (267), Florida (142), New York (137), Ohio (127), Texas (105), and Michigan (74).  Since January 1, 2021, states with the most, new complaints (in descending order) are California, New Jersey, Ohio, New York, Florida, Texas, and Michigan.
  • California is beginning to eclipse the rest of the country. Since January 1, 2021, California alone accounts for approximately 29% of all complaints filed in the United States, up from 21.4% of the first 1,000 complaints.  New Jersey holds steady in the number two spot, with 13% of complaints filed in 2021, slightly up from 12.6% of first 1,000 complaints.  Together, California and New Jersey account for 42% of all complaints filed in 2021.
  • California and New Jersey plaintiffs continue to flock to state court. Since January 1, 2021, 96.6% of California complaints and 89% of New Jersey complaints have been filed in state court.  During that same time period, outside of California and New Jersey, approximately 57% of complaints were filed in state court, and 43% in federal court.
  • Nearly all complaints now include allegations of wrongful termination. Since January 1, 2021, approximately 83.3% of complaints include allegations of wrongful termination.  This number has been steadily increasing throughout the pandemic.  Approximately 74% of the first 1,000 complaints included an allegation of wrongful termination.
  • The Healthcare industry continues to bear the brunt of COVID-19 litigation, but the Retail and Consumer Goods industry is experiencing a sharp increase. Since January 1, 2021, approximately 25.1% of all new complaints have targeted the Healthcare industry, which has been fairly constant throughout the pandemic.  The Retail and Consumer Goods industry, however, is experiencing a dramatic increase from 7.5% of the first 1,000 complaints filed, to approximately 13.7% of complaints filed in 2021.
  • “Disability, Leave & Accommodation,” “Discrimination/Harassment,” and “Retaliation/Whistleblower” continue to account for nearly all claims. These categories of complaints accounted for approximately 76% of the first 1,000 complaints but jumped to 85.5% of all complaints filed in 2021.
  • Class Action Lawsuits. Approximately 86 COVID-19-related employment class action complaints have been filed across the United States, primarily in California (36), Florida (14), Illinois (6), and New York (6).  Eighteen of these class actions were filed in 2021.

If you have any questions regarding COVID-19-related litigation, or any other employment law issues, do not hesitate to contact Jackson Lewis attorneys.

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Photo of Stephanie L. Adler-Paindiris Stephanie L. Adler-Paindiris

Stephanie L. Adler-Paindiris is a Principal and the Co-Leader of the firm’s Class Actions and Complex Litigation practice group. Her practice focuses exclusively on the representation of employers at the trial and appellate level in state and federal courts facing class and collective…

Stephanie L. Adler-Paindiris is a Principal and the Co-Leader of the firm’s Class Actions and Complex Litigation practice group. Her practice focuses exclusively on the representation of employers at the trial and appellate level in state and federal courts facing class and collective actions as well as claims of discrimination, retaliation or whistleblowing activity on an individual basis.  She also appears regularly before administrative judges and agencies.

Ms. Adler-Paindiris has conducted over a dozen trials before juries and judges in state and federal courts. In addition, Ms. Adler has participated in arbitrations and administrative hearings before the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings as well as AAA and FINRA. Ms. Adler-Paindiris has successfully defended appeals before four Courts of Appeals and has been admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ms. Adler-Paindiris also provides on-going legal support and counsel on a daily basis for many of her clients. She routinely provides training to managers and supervisors in all areas of employment law, including but not limited to, supervisory training, sexual and racial harassment prevention, disciplinary practice, documentation policies, safety and disability management.

Ms. Adler-Paindiris is also the Co-Leader of Jackson Lewis’ Women’s Interest Network or “WIN” working with the firm’s women attorneys and clients to increase diversity and inclusion efforts both internally and with our clients.

Ms. Adler-Paindiris is active in her community supporting a number of organizations related to her five children. She is also passionate about volunteering her time and services to the Wounded Warrior Project and other organizations.