WE FIGHT INJUSTICE IN THE WORKPLACE
What are the Benefits of a Class Action Lawsuit?
What Requriements Do You Need to Certify a Class Action Lawsuit?
How Do You File a Class Action Lawsuit Against an Employer?
Los Angeles Employment Law Class Action Attorney
Class action lawsuits provide a way for employees who have been wronged by their employers to come together and assert their rights under both state and federal labor laws by filing a claim on behalf of a much larger group. Filing a class action lawsuit, although similar in some ways to the filing of individual claims, does tend to be a complex process that requires adherence to a variety of specific court rules, so if you were wronged by an employer and you know that other employees have also been the victims of unlawful employment practices, it is important to contact an experienced employment class action attorney who can help protect your interests.
Certifying a Class Action Lawsuit
Lawsuits must meet certain requirements before they can be certified as class action lawsuits in California. The decision about whether to allow the formation of a class, however, does not depend on the merits of the case or the specific claims of the employees. Instead, this determination is based on the fulfillment of a series of requirements. For instance, to qualify as a class action suit, a claim must involve a group that is considered ascertainable, which is determined by assessing:
- Whether the definition of the group in question is clear and logical and reflects similar allegations against the employer;
- Whether the number of employees involved is sufficient, which usually means a collection of at least 20 people; and
- Whether the means or methods used to identify the members of the group of employee-plaintiffs are efficient, practical, effective, and not overly burdensome.
In addition to determining whether a group is ascertainable, courts will also decide whether there is a well-defined community of interest in the questions of fact and law at issue. This in turn, is determined by considering the application of the following three factors:
- Whether there is a common question of fact or law among the members;
- Whether the claim’s representatives are typical of the group; and
- Whether the representatives can adequately represent the group as a whole.
While this requirement does not necessitate that all of the members of a class have claims that are exactly the same, it does mean that the factors involved in the claim are mostly and largely similar. This also applies to the individuals who are representing the group, as their particular claims must match those of the rest of the members, or they will not be permitted to represent the interests of the group as a whole. This is an important requirement, as it helps ensure that the court will not have to spend time and resources on the legal issues of multiple individuals, which could result in the case being delayed and even prejudice other litigants from obtaining a speedy recovery. Instead, class action lawsuits allow a single court to focus on the same set of facts and legal issues.
If these requirements have been satisfied, a class action suit’s representative must be able to demonstrate that the proposed group is so large that the filing of individual lawsuits would be impracticable. While there is no specific definition of what constitutes an impracticable number, courts do consider:
- The type of claims;
- The estimated length of the proceedings if filed individually;
- The complexity of the issues of the individual versus the complexity of resolving the issues together; and
- The risk that individual lawsuits will result in differing holdings and so will not properly protect the rights of employees.
Depending on these factors, the size of a class can be anywhere from 10 to more than 1,000 people. Finally, a group proposing inclusion as a class action suit must be able to prove at least two of the following:
- The employer violated a law, but the unlawful act can be remedied through an injunction and not just compensation; and/or
- The legal issues affecting the class as a whole have more importance than individual issues; and/or
- An employment class action claim is the best way to resolve the employment dispute.
Claimants who wish to file a class action lawsuit face an uphill battle in many ways, as having a case certified as a class action can be difficult. Once this has been achieved, however, plaintiffs enjoy a number of different benefits.
Benefits of a Class Action Lawsuit
There are a number of benefits to pursuing a class action claim instead of an individual suit. For instance, class action plaintiffs do not have to be afraid of retaliation from their employer, as that type of conduct is strictly prohibited under state and federal law. Class action lawsuits are also one of the best ways to put a stop to unlawful conduct, as successful employees can obtain an injunction, prohibiting the company from continuing to break the law, while also ensuring that plaintiffs receive a portion of any settlement or verdict. Employees who engage in these suits can also contribute to the creation of good public policy, in addition to creating a safer or fairer work environment. Finally, in class action settlements, the class representative, or person who filed the claim on behalf of other employees, could be eligible for a service award payment, as well as a damages award.
Practically, employees who are part of a class action employment suit most likely will not have to shoulder the burden of litigation unless they are a representative. Furthermore, employees who come together to file a suit can pool their resources, meaning that one person will not be stuck with the bill at the end of trial. It is also important to note that employers are often more likely to enter into settlement negotiations with larger groups, which pose a much more formidable foe than individual claimants.
One of the most important benefits of filing a class action lawsuit is that they conserve time and court resources, which in turn allows courts to solve a single large scale problem at once, rather than being inundated with hundreds of individual cases. In addition to helping resolve these issues more quickly, filing one class action lawsuit on behalf of a number of plaintiffs ensures consistency because if filed separately, individual plaintiffs who file the same claims could end up with different results.
There are also, however, a few disadvantages to filing a class action lawsuit. For instance, class action plaintiffs generally have less control than they would have over an individual case and fewer options in deciding how the case will be handled. Furthermore, even if a class action lawsuit is unsuccessful, wronged employees cannot then file a personal lawsuit. For help determining whether the disadvantages of filing a class action lawsuit outweigh the advantages in your particular case, please call our office today.
Filing an Employment Class Action Lawsuit
Class action lawsuits, like any type of litigation, involve a number of different stages, including:
- Filing and response, where the class representatives submit a complaint on the group’s behalf, after which the employer is given the chance to respond to the complaint;
- Discovery, which is a legal process in which the parties exchange information, documents, and other evidence;
- Certification, which is the process by which the parties request that their claim be certified as a class action lawsuit;
- Notification, which involves providing notice to all members of the group of the pending lawsuit, at which point, those individual can choose to opt out of the suit;
- Trial, when evidence is presented to a judge or jury, or settlement negotiations entered into by the plaintiffs and defendant; and
- A final order issued by the judge or jury regarding the questions of fact and law presented to the court.
While many class action lawsuits are resolved through negotiation and settlement, a large number go to court, in which case, the employees involved will need the assistance of an experienced class action lawyer who can help them seek the best possible outcome.
Class Action Lawsuit Protections
Many employees are wary of filing any type of legal claim against their employers out of fear of retaliation, including demotion, harassment, or even termination. Fortunately, employers are strictly barred from firing an employee or engaging in workplace retaliation simply because he or she chose to participate in litigation. In fact, employers who engage in this type of conduct can face additional penalties and lawsuits. Despite these protections, some employees may not want to participate in a class action lawsuit, in which case, they can choose to opt out, which means that they will not be a part of the suit and will not receive any proceeds from the case, but can still file a personal injury lawsuit based on the allegations at a later date.
Call Today for Help with Your Class Action Case
If your employment rights, as well as the rights of fellow employees, have been violated at work, you could be entitled to compensation. Please contact California employment class action lawyer Jamie Wright, Esq by calling our office or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about filing a class action lawsuit today.