So, now that I’ve finished up the first five years, it’s time to think about what’s in store over the next five years.  It’d be easy to punt on the subject, but I’m going to take a crack at it.  Here are some ideas on where we’ll be in another five years.  Check back in five years to see if it comes to fruition.

  • It’s hard to imagine now, but we’ll be on another president (or two) by 2017.  There’ll be some additional turnover in Congress as well.  Will the do-nothing Congress (at least as it relates to employment law) of the last two years spill over? Or will Washington break the gridlock. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll see wide-ranging changes to the nation’s employment laws. What might we see? ENDA — the bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — might be one bill by then.  And perhaps a change to the minimum wage as part of a compromise on a budget.
  • Predicting an end to the wage-and-hour lawsuit craze seems somewhat foolish at this stage.  But let’s suggest that the economy will get better over the next five years.  Higher wages = happier employees.  And with happier employees, comes a reduction in lawsuits filed.  So, the trend may not end, but perhaps we’ve seen the peak over the last decade.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act was amended in 2008.  It’s only been recently that we’re starting to see a slight uptick in cases under those claims. I suspect that as this law gets flushed out more, we’ll see some more cases looking to push the envelope.  So, the next wave of ADA cases may be beginning now.
  • Settlements of cases will continue to increase.  The costs of litigation in the employment law area are quite high when compared with the overall “value” of the case.  (Compare an employment case with the epic Apple-Samsung patent dispute and you get the idea).  So, look for more arbitration and more mediation.  And more companies will adopt mandatory arbitration policies so long as courts bless them.
  • The next next technology wave (perhaps with Google glasses?) will take over.  As social media continues to pervade the workplace culture, we could see more internal social networks and even greater pervasiveness of technology.  Everyone is chasing the next Instagram but companies that don’t understand how technology is changing the way we recruit employees and manage the workforce are going to suffer greatly in this next wave.

So those are my fearless predictions.  What about you? Any trends you see out on the horizon?