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, 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 common to several employees.
Such lawsuits can also address, for example, a common failure to reimburse employees for business expenses.
These lawsuits can address 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.
A class-action lawsuit requires several steps before it reaches settlement or trial.
Complete these steps to start the class action lawsuit process:
- 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.
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.
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 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 the 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.
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 to set up a free case review. We’ll discuss your employment experience and let you know if we can help.