Surveys in Class Action Wage and Hour Cases and the Use of Anonymous Respondents
Jeffrey S. Petersen, Phillip H. Allman, and William C. Lee. 2015. Surveys in Class Action Wage and Hour Cases and the Use of Anonymous Respondents. Journal of Legal Economics 22(1): pp. 25–38
Forensic economists face a choice when retained to project damages in a class action wage and hour case and need to survey the class members – should they conduct a survey themselves or rely upon a survey professional? In either case, forensic economists will need to be involved in developing the survey questions. A wage and hour survey is unlike most other surveys conducted by researchers since respondents can potentially receive substantial financial payments based on their responses. In order to obtain accurate estimates of past work hours, twenty-four hour time accounting should be utilized within the survey. Also, the survey participants should likely be told that their responses are not anonymous and that they may be held accountable for their answers at a deposition and/or trial testimony. Survey respondents may inflate work hours if informed that they will be anonymous – a classic problem of moral hazard because the surveyed class members bear no risk associated with the inflated responses while employers have to pay for them. The decision of anonymity will not come without controversy in the courtroom because the vast majority of literature on surveys advocates anonymous survey respondents. This article describes why conventional wisdom on anonymity does not apply in wage and hour surveys.
Jeffrey S. Petersen, Phillip H. Allman, William C. Lee