What Is An Employment Class Action Lawsuit? When Is It Necessary?
Los Angeles Employment Lawyers Explain Class Actions
Employee rights violations at work often affect more than just one individual. For example, if your employer fails to pay you rightful overtime wages, other employees are probably facing the same injustice. In some cases, thousands of employees may all be the victims of the same workplace rights violations. In these instances, an employment class action lawsuit can benefit all victims at once, by consolidating dozens of individual claims into one case. These lawsuits typically last longer than an individual case and are much more complex. However, a successful class action claim usually results in a court ruling that forces the company in question to end its discriminatory and/or other illegal practices as well as compensate the victims.
At the Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. our employment lawyers have the resources to coordinate large class action lawsuits and understand the complex laws involved. In the past, we have handled several successful employment class actions. One of our partners, Los Angeles employment attorney Doug Silverstein, represented a notable California employment class action lawsuit. This case, which settled in favor of our clients, involved drivers who were denied rightful meal breaks and not given correct pay.
What is an Employment Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action lawsuit is any legal claim that is filed by a group of people (called the Class Representatives) on behalf of a larger group who have all been wronged in a similar way. In an employment class action, this means that everyone in the large group experienced rights violations such as discrimination, harassment and/or wage inequality at a company or business as a result of a common factor. For example, everyone in each employment class action lawsuit may be the victim of racial discrimination at work because of their employer’s actions or policies.
Class action lawsuits are often the only way that individual employees can combat unfair policies or discrimination at work. A single employment lawsuit may be more expensive to file and litigate than it is worth, in many cases. Additionally, an individual claim may result in compensation for the victim, but it rarely affects any concrete changes within the defendant company. By contrast, class action lawsuits often result in large settlements to be divided among the class, providing more incentive to victims to pursue a claim. Additionally, the courts may issue an injunction against the employer to correct wage theft, discriminatory practices or other harmful policies as a result of a class action. This ensures the ongoing benefit of a fair workplace for all class members as well as future employees.
How Do I File a Class Action Lawsuit Against My Employer?
In order for employment lawyers to file an employment class action lawsuit on behalf of a large group, the claim must meet several requirements. These are:
- The class is so big that filing individual claims would be impractical. This means that a significant number of people at the company experienced similar workplace rights violations.
- Each individual claim in the employment class action lawsuit must be similar. This means that the circumstances of each claim must have enough in common that a single ruling can resolve them all.
- The individual types of lawsuits as well as the defenses to these claims must be similar. Like the second requirement, this means that a single defense will cover all claims in the class action.
- The class representatives must protect the interests of everyone in the class. This means that you cannot have a conflict of interest if you are a class representative. You must also commit to fighting for fairness in the workplace, and are responsible for hiring adept employment lawyers to handle the case.
- Additionally, your case must meet at least two of the three following requirements:
- Your employer broke the law. This means that the courts can fix the problem through an official injunction, rather than just ordering compensation for victims.
- The legal issues that affect the whole class must have greater importance than individual issues.
- An employment class action lawsuit must be the best way to resolve the conflict. This typically means that it saves times and money, as well as prevents inconsistent judgments.
What are the Steps of an Employment Class Action Lawsuit?
Class action lawsuits typically take much longer than an individual case and include several additional stages. Most importantly, the courts must consider whether the complaint justifies a class action, rather than individual cases. An employment class action lawsuit typically progresses like so:
- Filing and response. Your employment lawyers file a complaint on behalf of the entire class. Then, the defendant (in employment matters, your current or former employer) may respond to the complaint.
- Discovery. This is the period during which your attorneys will gather evidence to support your case. Often, this includes data collection, depositions and expert reports. The class representatives have a responsibility to help with discovery.
- Certification. Your employment lawyers will also file a certification request, asking the courts to approve your class action. This process does not involve a judge ruling on your case but merely deciding if your class and lawsuit meet all the aforementioned requirements. If the judge denies certification, the class members may still proceed with individual lawsuits against the employer.
- Notification. Once the class is certified, all members of the class will be notified of the lawsuit. These possible plaintiffs can then choose whether they wish to be included in the class action.
- Trial. Once the class members have been finalized, a trial can proceed if a settlement is not reached.
- Final order. If there is no appeal, the courts will issue a final order on the settlement amount or verdict. The court may also issue an order requiring the defendant to change certain behaviors or policies.
- Appeal. If the court rules in favor of the class, the defendant may appeal the decision to a higher court and vice versa.
Considering a Class Action? Contact Our Los Angeles Employment Lawyers Now
Class action lawsuits are incredibly complex and often involve fighting a team of powerful corporate attorneys. However, the employment lawyers at Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. have experience advocating for the rights of California workers. We offer free initial consultations for all workers.
If you believe you have grounds for a class action, we can answer your questions. Additionally, we can also investigate whether an employment issue you are facing is widespread in your company. We can even offer you advice if you received a class action notification. Contact our Los Angeles law firm to get started right away.