If your rights as an employee in California are violated, chances are, you are not alone. Frequently, when employers fail to pay overtime, provide meal or rest breaks, or engage in misclassification or discrimination, the unlawful conduct affects many employees together. There is power in numbers, and under California law, a single employee may have the right to seek compensation on behalf of an entire class of workers who have suffered similar harms. This type of lawsuit is the “class action.”
The class action is a procedure under California and federal law that allows a single employee who has been wronged to represent a class of fellow employees who have suffered similar violations of law. The employee who is named in the lawsuit is called the “class representative” and the other employees who are represented in the lawsuit are called the “class.”
Class actions have several benefits over individual lawsuits. First, it often happens a single employee’s claims are too small to justify a lawsuit, but when many employees’ claims are combined together as a class, litigation becomes economically feasible. Second, class actions frequently result in employer-wide reforms so that current and future employees are not subject to the same harms.
Class actions are governed by California and federal rules that ensure that the class action procedure is right for the particular case. These rules look to several factors:
Numerous class members: There must be enough employees in the class to make the class action the most practical option.
Common issues: There must be factual and legal issues in common among the class members making it more efficient to deal with all of the claims together in a single case.
Typical claims: The class representative, also known as the “named” or “lead” plaintiff must have claims that are similar to the claims of the class members.
Whether class action treatment is appropriate is determined by the court in a process called “class certification.” Essentially, the lawyer will ask the court to determine that a class action is the most efficient and best way to deal with the case.
Many types of claims can become a class action. The most important thing to remember is that the violation must affect many employees in the same way. Here are some examples:
These are just a few examples. Any violation of law that affects a group of employees in the same or similar way may be appropriate for class action treatment.
The Orange County based Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams represents employees in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage & hour, whistleblower and other employment matters. If you think you have a claim, contact us today at 949-679-9909 or use the contact form below and we will respond promptly