FAQs on Employment Class Action Lawsuits
Q: What is a class action lawsuit?
A: A “class action” is a legal procedure that allows one or more plaintiffs to file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group, or “class” or litigants. The reason that class actions are allowed is to help courts manage claims simultaneously when certain conditions are met.
Q: What are requirements for a class action?
A: Each state has different requirements for a class action, but many states follow the federal requirements for a class action lawsuit. In general, the federal rules of civil procedure require the following for a class action to be “certified” and thereby appropriate for litigation:
• there must be many potential plaintiffs
• there must be a common injury or wrongdoing
• the named plaintiffs (that will be designated the class representatives) have the same claims as all the other plaintiffs; and any defenses by the employer are the same or very similar
• the class representatives can protect the class adequately and fairly.
Employment class actions have two additional requirements that consider the impact on individual claims if the employer objects to a class action, and the employer urges the court to handle each claim individually. In other words, the courts will allow a class action to proceed in order to ensure that the employer is not able to settle individual claims in ways that are not consistent or fail to protect the interests of all the employees claiming a violation.
Class actions and the requirements are complicated, and therefore it is important to discuss your case with an experienced labor law attorney to determine whether your case is appropriate for a class action, or whether you will be better served by filing a lawsuit as an individual.
Q: Are class actions common in employment law?
A: Yes. Class actions are often used in cases when an employer has violated the rights of a large group of employees. Class actions are an effective way to file a claim against an employer that will protect the rights of many employees that have had their rights violated in a similar way or due to being in a particular class based on race, age, sex, or national origin.
Class actions against employers are particularly effective because employers must address the claims of many employees and have a strong incentive to stop the illegal behavior since the awards can be much more significant than a lawsuit by an individual employee. For example, if you are an employee and your employer is refusing to follow the law by paying required overtime wages, it seems likely that the employer is similarly violating the rights of other employees. Pursuing a class action lawsuit would allow all the injured employees to file one lawsuit seeking damages instead of each individual employee filing a separate lawsuit.
Q: What are the steps to file a class action lawsuit?
A: If you feel that your rights as am employee are being violated, for example, if your employer is not providing you with meal or rest breaks, or your workplace is not safe, you should contact an experienced labor law attorney to discuss your case.
If you and your attorney decide to file a class action because there is reason to believe that are other employees that have been similarly injured, your attorney will work to certify the class (in either state court or federal court). This will involve identifying all employees that should be part of the class. The goal is to have the court certify the class, which will allow the lawsuit to proceed. Notably, unlike federal law, California has “a public policy which encourages the use of the class action device.”
Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including ADA and FEHA violations and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.
If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as an employee, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law, and may be entitled to compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.