You can force your employer to change its illegal practices.
If your employer discriminates against or denies wages to a whole group of employees, a class action lawsuit can be the best tool to make the employer end the policy and pay damages to everyone who was affected.
In a class action you, as a lead plaintiff, may bring an action on behalf of a larger group of employees, forcing the employer to change its wrongful practices and obtaining justice for everyone. While certifying the class is an added step, the duties of the lead plaintiffs, and the time it takes to reach settlement, are similar to bringing an individual action.
We have successfully handled class action cases involving misclassification of independent contractors, unpaid overtime, off-the-clock work, late wages, travel time, and other issues. Our skilled employment attorneys will take the time to explain the process and responsibilities of becoming a class action lead plaintiff.
Class action areas
Almost any employment law violation could be the basis for a class action, if many people have suffered the same or similar violations. However, here are some common case examples:
WAGE & OVERTIME VIOLATIONS
Failure to pay employees overtime or double-time rates
The employer does not pay hourly wage workers at the overtime or double-time rate when required.
Wrongly telling employees they are exempt from overtime
Some highly paid professionals, like inside sales persons and certain IT professionals, may be owed overtime pay.
Employees are incorrectly classified as independent contractors
Some employers abuse independent contractor status to avoid paying owed wages, benefits or overtime.
NO BREAK TIME
Denying hourly employees breaks
Hourly wage employees are denied uninterrupted 30 minute meal breaks, or 10 minute rest breaks. Be aware that employers sometimes falsely claim a break "waiver" is in place.
FAILURE TO DISCLOSE
Workers do not get an itemized wage statement with each paycheck
Statement should correctly show total hours, pay rate, gross pay, deductions, net pay, employer and employee name.
Failure to pay mileage or travel
Employer refuses to pay mileage or legitimate expenses, or hourly wage employees are not paid for time spent traveling between work locations.
Failure to pay commissions
Sales people are not paid all commissions due under a commission plan.
WAGE & OVERTIME VIOLATIONS
Failure to pay minimum wage
Employer fails to pay its hourly employees the minimum wage.
The number of wage and hour class action lawsuits is on the rise
In 2016, 53.8 percent of companies were managing class actions of all kinds. And the number of wage and hour class action lawsuits filed along with the amount recovered has grown since 2014. The amount recovered in wage and hour cases alone jumped from $215.3 million in 2014 to $695.5 million in 2016.
How many employees must be affected for a class action?
You usually won't know how many people are affected by an illegal employment policy, and the law does not set an exact minimum number. The requirement varies depending on the facts of the situation. If you suspect an illegal policy or action affects any number of employees (or only you) talk to an experienced employment lawyer, who will advise whether a class action makes sense for you.
Am I better off with a class action, or filing an individual lawsuit?
The answer varies, depending on your exact situation and type of damages. For a smaller claim, a class action may be the only way to recover your damages. If you are owed a few thousand dollars or less, one lawsuit may not recover costs, and probably will not force the employer to change its illegal practices. However if hundreds of employees are affected and join together as a team, they can all recover damages, and also put an end to dishonest employment practices.
Labor and employment cases are the most common type of class action
We listen and help you determine the best action for your case.
Is your situation unique to you?
If your situation is unique compared to other employees, an individual action may suit you better.
McCormack and Erlich employment lawyers will not pressure you to file a class action or a single-plaintiff case. We will explain the differences between class and individual actions and provide plain-English advice so you can best decide what course of action is best for you.
How is a class action different from an individual case?
In an individual action, you bring a lawsuit against your employer on your own behalf. In a class action you alone, or with a small group of coworkers, bring the lawsuit on behalf of a much larger group of affected employees. Any settlement or jury award will be divided among all members of the class, typically in relation to individual damages.
Certifying the class
The class must be "certified" by the court, which involves a number of factors, however the key issues are whether:
All the employees in the class were injured in a similar way
Everyone involved in the class must have suffered the same or similar harm.
Lead plaintiffs who can represent the class
The lead plaintiffs must be able to adequately represent the class’ interests.
What are the duties of a "Lead Plaintiff" in a Class Action? Are there advantages?
Lead plaintiffs for a class have similar duties to any individual employee who brings a lawsuit. They may have to sit for deposition, answer written questions, and provide evidence related to the case. Lead plaintiffs in a class action have the additional duty to represent the interests of all the affected employees, and not just their own interests. This is especially important as the lead plaintiffs must approve any negotiated settlement of the case. Courts often award the lead plaintiff an extra amount of settlement money to compensate for the extra work they perform in service of the class.
Class Action Case Study
- A promotional model signed up for work promoting alcoholic beverages at clubs and stores, and chose her own assignments on a website.
- The company made her attend mandatory unpaid trainings, gave detailed instructions on how to do her work, and did not pay her overtime claiming she was not an employee.
- She realized she might have been misclassified as an independent contractor by her “gig-economy” employer.
- Her claims for unpaid wages were modest, yet hundreds of other workers had been treated the same way.
McCormack & Erlich filed a class action with the model and two coworkers as lead plaintiffs. Based on the combined power of the claims, we were able to negotiate a $1.95 Million settlement to reimburse all the workers for their unpaid wages. In addition the company changed its policies, classifying all workers as employees, and it stopped forcing them to work off-the-clock.
We empower employees like you to reclaim their livelihoods.
Call for a free case evaluation
If you are aware of a widespread employment violation by an employer, a class action gives you the power to obtain recovery for all your fellow employees and put an end to the employer's illegal activities for good. If so, it’s crucial to contact an experienced attorney at McCormack & Erlich to understand your rights and to ensure that you are taking on the best plan of action.