A class action lawsuit allows a group of workers who suffered the same or similar harm to join together to pursue their claims in a single court action to pursue recovery. In some cases, hundreds or even thousands of employees, may be victims of the same workplace violations. A class action allows all of these employees to consolidate their individual claims into one case.
Common examples of class action lawsuits in California is when an employer is, as a matter of course, violating California laws with regard to a large group of employees by:
- Failing to provide meal and/or rest breaks or requiring employees to work through their meal and/or rest breaks;
- Failing to pay overtime;
- Failing to pay California or local minimum wage;
- Failing to pay for work performed off the clock;
- Failing to provide for sick pay;
- Discriminating against female employees;
- Discriminating against a particular racial and/or ethnic group;
- Discriminating against older employees;
Benefits of bringing a class action:
- Class actions provide restitution to employees who would otherwise find it difficult to find adequate representation due to the small size of their individual claims.
- Even if each individual claim is small, a class action allows employees to pursue a worthy cause.
- The larger group puts pressure on the employer to settle the claims (eg, paying employees their unpaid wages), rather than go through the time and expense of a trial.
- Class action lawsuits are generally handled by more competent and experienced attorneys who have gone through similar cases in the past. This allows employees to have superb representation as a group.
- The cost to litigate claims is spread across many plaintiffs, so the class has more resources available to litigate their claims against the employer.
- Class actions also reduce the number of suits clogging the court system. The case is determined by one judge in one court so there will be no inconsistent verdicts. It’s generally faster to litigate one claim at one time on behalf of the class than many similar claims at different times on behalf of each individual.
The requirements for class action lawsuit in California are as follows:
- 1) A large number of employees are harmed by the employer thereby making individual representation of each employee impractical. This means that a substantial number of employees experience similar or the same workplace violations.
- 2) A class action must involve factual and legal issues that are common to all class members. This essentially means that the members of the class should have suffered the same injury.
- 3) The individual bringing the lawsuit has claims that are typical of all class members
- 4) The class representative must protect the interests of everyone in the class.