Do you feel like your employer has been violating your rights as an employee? If your employer has been doing this to you and others you may have a class-action lawsuit.
If you’ve been treated unfairly by your employer, you may not be alone in your experience.
In fact, your employer could have a history of violating employment laws.
When a group of employees shares a common complaint against an employer, they can pursue a class-action lawsuit.
A class-action lawsuit in California holds an employer accountable for wrongful actions against several employees and can protect future employees from harm.
A class-action lawsuit also compensates employees for the harm they suffered.
For these reasons, California public policy encourages the use of class action litigation.
If you would like to explore the possibility of a class-action lawsuit in California, contact our employment law attorneys.
The attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group are experienced class action attorneys.
Our class action lawyers in California have nearly 100 years of combined employment law experience. We can offer legal advice and representation for your dispute.
To learn more about class action lawsuits, read on for information on the following topics:
After you’ve read about class action lawsuits in California, you may want to file a claim against your employer. Give us a call at 818-844-5200, and we will set up a free case review as a first step in your class action lawsuit.
What Is a Class-Action Lawsuit Against an Employer?
A class-action lawsuit allows one or more plaintiffs to represent a large group (called a class).
The representative group sues an employer over common harm experienced by the class.
Then, if the class-action lawsuit is successful, the entire class splits any settlement award.
The smaller group that represents the class asserts these things:
- The harm suffered by the representative group is similar to the harm suffered by everyone in the class;
- The harm suffered by the class arises from a common set of facts;
- The same legal standard applies to the harm suffered by all members of the class; and
- The number of people who suffered harm is so large that it is impractical to join them in a traditional lawsuit.
Class action lawsuits in California are useful when an employer commits widespread wage violations, or other unfair treatment common to several employees.
Employee class-action lawsuits can respond to a wide variety of employer misconduct. A wage and hour class action, for example, seeks compensation for employees who have not been paid fairly. Likewise, class-action lawsuits can address a common failure to reimburse employees for business expenses. These lawsuits can also address employer discrimination, such as an employer’s routine practice of civil rights violations..
Filing a class action lawsuit holds your employer accountable and helps prevent further employee abuse.
A lawsuit may also discourage other employers from committing similar workplace violations.
How to Start a Class Action Lawsuit
If you think you may have grounds for a class-action lawsuit, contact an employment attorney.
The attorney can let you know if you have a strong case and guide you through the steps needed for a class-action lawsuit.
Write your experience
First, get your story straight. Write down your experience, sharing your work story from the time that you joined the company to the events making up the wrongful action. Also, you should gather any information that can back up your claim. Our experienced investigators can help you find additional information to support your claim.
Before you file a lawsuit, you’ll want to make sure that you have identified a group of people who have experienced similar mistreatment. You may already know of co-workers who have shared their negative work experiences. However, to learn how many people your company’s wrongful action impacts, you’ll need to do some digging. Try these strategies for finding people who have experienced similar unfair treatment:
- Talk to people at work to see what you can figure out about common negative workplace experiences;
- If you know anyone who left the company, contact them to figure out why; and
- Look at any online chat groups for your company to see if you can find additional information.
If you’re still working at your company while digging for clues, try to be subtle. Our investigators can help you by providing suggestions and assistance.
Identify the law your employer violated
Next, our attorneys can identify the law that applies to your claim. A workplace violation may fall under an assortment of federal and state laws, including these:
- California workers’ compensation,
- California minimum wage law,
- California overtime law,
- California independent contractor law,
- California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act,
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
- Child labor laws,
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA),
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Once we meet with you to discuss your claim, we can tell you exactly which laws your employers violated. We’ll also advise you of the possible remedies, such as monetary damages, for the discrimination you experienced.
How to File a Class Action Lawsuit
When you have identified a group of people who shared an unfair workplace experience and gathered information to support your claim, it’s time to take legal action. You may wonder how to file a class action lawsuit against a company. It may sound complicated, but an experienced lawyer should be able to handle all the details. Your attorney will walk you through each step in your lawsuit process and advise you of your rights along the way.
A class-action lawsuit requires several steps before it reaches settlement or trial.
Complete these steps to start the class action lawsuit in California:
- File a lawsuit,
- Request class certification,
- Identify all class members, and
- Notify all class members.
Once these initial steps are completed, class action lawyers in California can work to negotiate a settlement.
Most employment class action lawsuits are resolved through settlement, though some claims may go to trial.
If attorneys reach a settlement agreement, the court then must approve or reject the settlement.
Once the court approves the settlement, a mandatory notice goes out to all class members that a settlement was reached.
What Is Class Certification?
To file a class-action lawsuit in California, a group of employees must receive class certification.
This means that a representative group of people request a judge to certify (approve) the class.
You can represent a class on your own, but it may give your claim more weight if other workplace victims join with you to represent the class.
When deciding whether to certify a class, the judge considers the following points:
- The size of the class,
- Whether it is impractical to join class members in a traditional lawsuit,
- Whether class members fall under a similar set of law and facts,
- Whether the representatives suffered harm that is typical of harm suffered by the class, and
- Whether the representatives (and their attorneys) can fairly and sufficiently represent everyone in the class.
California law does not set a minimum number of class members required for a class action lawsuit. However, federal courts generally require 40 or more members to form a class, and state courts usually follow this standard.
The judge does not consider the merits of the case when certifying the class. The judge considers only whether the lawsuit meets the qualifications for a class action.
Therefore, receiving class certification or denial does not reflect on members’ potential to win a pending lawsuit on the merits.
If a judge certifies the class, the class action lawsuit against an employer can move forward.
If the judge denies class-action status, the lawsuit cannot proceed as a class action.
However, members of the class can file suit individually or by joinder. Also, members of a denied class can appeal the judge’s decision.
How to Provide Notice to the Class
Class action lawyers in California should make a reasonable effort to identify all potential class members.
All prospective members of the class should then receive notice of the lawsuit.
Potential class members might receive notice through mail, email, or advertisements.
The notice should include the following information:
- Summary of the case allegations,
- The right for any member to opt-out of the class, and
- The potential settlement’s binding effect on each member of the class.
Once the class is certified and notice sent, potential members have three options:
- Do nothing, which automatically joins them as a class member;
- Join the class as a named plaintiff, which allows them to participate in settlement negotiations; or
- Opt-out of the class.
Members who opt-out of the class won’t share a potential settlement. However, they can bring individual lawsuits.
Members who do not opt-out of the class are automatically included in a potential settlement or court decision. Class members do not usually have the option to pursue an individual lawsuit.
Examples of Class Action Lawsuits
Unfortunately, some employers may violate employees’ civil rights or ignore labor laws.
Whenever an employer ignores legal requirements and mistreats a large group of employees, the employees may file a class-action lawsuit.
Example problems that might be grounds for a class-action lawsuit include:
- Refusal to pay employees overtime,
- Firing a large group of employees,
- Lack of adequate breaks,
- Paying below minimum wage,
- Violating equal pay mandates,
- Discriminating against employees,
- Wrongfully claiming employees are independent contractors, and
- Violating civil rights.
Many well-known companies have been involved in class-action lawsuits. For example, employees sued these companies over unfair treatment:
- Amazon warehouse employees sued for unpaid wages;
- Ashley Furniture salespeople brought suit against the company over minimum wage violations;
- Provide Commerce, Inc., customers sued the company for fraudulently transferring company information to Encore Marketing, Inc., causing unauthorized charges;
- Kaiser Foundation Hospitals hourly employees sued the company for failure to pay all hourly and overtime wages;
- Massage Envy employees sued the company over lost wages and failure to provide meal and rest breaks; and
- Shelly Automotive technicians and mechanics brought suit over unpaid wages and lack of meal and rest breaks.
In fact, some class-action lawsuits have changed history and even found fame on the big screen.
For instance, A Civil Action and Erin Brockovich originated as class action lawsuits before finding book and movie fame.
Also, the famous Scopes Monkey Trial and Brown v. Board of Education started as class actions alleging violations of Constitutional rights.
The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, one of the largest class-action settlements ever, required the tobacco industry to pay over $200 billion.
Who Can File a Class Action Lawsuit?
A single plaintiff can file a class action lawsuit in California. So, even if you have not identified everyone in the class, you can proceed with litigation. Through the class action lawsuit process, your lawyers will have the opportunity to identify more people in the injured class.
Some instances of workplace misconduct may exclude a class action lawsuit in California. Companies try to save money on litigation costs by inserting mandatory arbitration clauses into employees’ contracts. If your contract contains an arbitration clause, it means that you agreed to bring any contract disputes before an arbitrator instead of suing in court.
Whether a court upholds your arbitration agreement depends on your attorney’s skill, the judge, and prior case rulings. Our attorneys persuasively argue against the enforcement of mandatory arbitration clauses, and some judges agree to overturn them.
Sometimes a judge will refuse to enforce an arbitration clause on these grounds:
- It is unconscionable,
- You had no intent to agree to arbitration,
- The arbitration clause does not waive your right to a jury, or
- You signed the contract because of fraud or duress.
The lawyers at Workplace Rights Law Group have significant experience analyzing arbitration agreements and figuring out whether they are enforceable. If you have questions about an arbitration agreement you signed, you should contact Workplace Rights Law Group.
Want to Know If You Can File a Class Action Lawsuit?
If you have a potential class-action lawsuit against an employer, you need a knowledgeable employment attorney experienced with class actions.
Workplace Rights Law Group fights for California employee rights, and we’ve won our clients millions of dollars in settlements.
Our class action lawyers in California represented employers for years, so we know their defenses and what tactics work best in settlement negotiations.
We want to give our clients individualized attention, so we won’t take every case. However, we offer a free case review to determine if your class-action lawsuit in California might be a good fit for our skills.
Contact us on our online form or call us at 818-844-5200 to set up a free case review. We’ll discuss your employment experience and let you know if we can help.