What Are Class Actions?
A class action, or representative action, is a type of lawsuit where a group of people are represented collectively by a member of that group. Class action lawsuits are often used to resolve wage and hour claims in California, in cases where a number of employees have been similarly affected by an employer’s unlawful actions. For example, if an employer regularly fails to pay employees the wages they have earned, and pay them on time, or if an employer fails to permit employees to take the meal and rest breaks they are afforded by California wage and hour laws, the employees owed back pay could pursue a class action lawsuit against the employer for unpaid wages. If you are considering bringing a class action in California, contact our knowledgeable California class action lawyer at Davtyan PLC to discuss your legal options.
What is a Class Action?
A class action lawsuit is a legal action in which one or more plaintiffs file a lawsuit that represents a “class” of people with similar claims, rather than the plaintiffs each filing an individual claim. Liability in a class action is determined by a judge who grants a legal remedy for all members of the represented class. For California employees, some common types of employment class action litigation include the following claims against employers:
- Unpaid wages
- Misclassification of employees as independent contractors
- Misclassification of non-exempt employees as exempt
- Failure to provide required meal or rest breaks
- Failure to pay overtime wages
- Requiring employees to work “off the clock” without compensation
- Failure to provide suitable seating on the job
Obtaining Certification as a Class Action
Any potential plaintiff can initiate a class action in California. Once a plaintiff files a lawsuit and moves for certification as a class, the court will decide whether the proposed class meets the requirements for class action certification. In order to achieve certification as a class action in California, the plaintiff must show that there is “an ascertainable class” and a “well-defined community of interest among class members.” This could include a group of workers employed by the same employer who have been similarly wronged, either by the employer’s failure to pay fair wages, the employer’s unfair payment practices, or the employer’s breach of an employment contract.
Plaintiffs in a class action must also establish the benefits of resolving the claims in a class action, showing that a class action lawsuit is a better alternative to pursuing individual lawsuits in resolving the disputes.
How a Class Action Works
Once a class is certified by the court, the case moves forward as a California class action lawsuit and potential class members are given the opportunity to “opt out” of the class action, thereby reserving their right to file an individual lawsuit. If, by trial or settlement, the class action litigation is resolved in favor of the plaintiffs, class members who did not opt out are notified so they can make a claim for relief. In this type of case, the defendant will typically be required to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and court costs, in addition to any damages or penalties ordered by the court.
Contact Our Experienced Class Action Attorneys
If you have been the victim of a labor law violation in California, your first course of action should be to consult an attorney with experience handling such claims. California labor law is complex and multifaceted and it can be difficult to fully understand your employment rights under California law without a strong legal background. For more information about bringing a class action in California, or to discuss your claim with a reputable class action lawyer, contact Davtyan PLC as soon as possible. For many wage and hour issues in California, there is a statute of limitations for pursuing a lawsuit, and if you wait too long to protect your rights, you could be barred from seeking compensation. With our California employment law attorney on your side, you can be sure that you understand the complexities of class actions and recognize the benefits of bringing a class action lawsuit in California.