When Can an Employment Lawsuit Be Brought as a Class Action?
State and federal law provides employees with a great number of rights against mistreatment by their employers, and, when those employers violate an employee’s rights, the employee often has a right to bring an employment lawsuit against the employer. In some cases, the financial recovery can be quite substantial, especially when punitive damages are involved. When an employer has violated many employees’ state or federal rights, but it is economically infeasible for any one plaintiff to bring a lawsuit, a class action may be the best legal solution.
Common Employment Lawsuits Brought as Class Actions
For reasons that will be explained below, some types of employer violations are a better fit for class actions than others, which might be more successfully brought as a direct action. Common types of employment lawsuits that can be brought successfully as class actions, thus benefiting all employees affected regardless of whether they take a direct role in bringing the suit, include:
- Wage violations
- Overtime violations
- Meal and break violations
- Misclassification of employees as independent contractors
- Failure to provide required benefits
- Exposure to toxins or other injuries
The primary benefits of bringing an employment class action is that attorneys can leverage the force of all affected plaintiffs as well as their own resources against powerful defendants in an efficient manner without requiring most employees to have to directly participate in the suit.
The Requirements for an Employment Class Action
Under state and federal law, a proposed class of plaintiffs must meet the following requirements to become certified as a class and thus proceed with the suit: Numerosity; Commonality; Typicality; and Adequacy of Representation.
Numerosity means there must be a significant number of plaintiffs, usually at least 20 to 30 plaintiffs. Typicality means that the named plaintiff in the class action (the employee actually working directly with the attorneys in bringing the suit) must have suffered injuries typical of those in the proposed class. Adequacy of representation means that the court will want to see that the attorneys bringing the class action have the skills and resources to adequately represent the interests of the class.
Commonality is often the most challenging hurdle in bringing an employment class action, and it means that the injuries suffered by the class must share some commonality with each other. In an overtime suit where many employees were affected by the same illegal company policy or practice regarding refusal to pay overtime pay, this might be more straightforward. In a discrimination suit alleging that individual managers harassed or engaged in discriminatory practices hurting individuals in various ways, this can be more challenging depending on the circumstances.
Talk to an employment law class action attorney to determine what your best options are for bringing suit in your particular situation.
Employment Law Attorneys in the Inland Empire
At McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, our skilled attorneys to bring illegal employer actions to light through successful employment class actions. Our employment rights class action attorneys will be at your side through every step of the process in pursuit of achieving a successful outcome in your matter. Contact our office today for a confidential consultation with an attorney regarding your situation.