When an employer violates your rights by doing things like underpaying you, discriminating against you, harassing you, or, among other things, retaliating against you for complaining about an employment matter, in many situations, you aren’t the only one. Employers who are doing these types of things often have a scheme that impacts multiple employees. Many times employers do it because their employees may have suspect legal documentation, and the employer uses this knowledge as a means to underpay or discriminate. In other cases, the employer does it just because it thinks it can.
In any scenario, a class action lawsuit is important. Strength in numbers is always a factor, especially in negotiations of a settlement. But class actions also help maximize resources, particularly beneficial when the defendant is a large company. Here’s we answer some of your questions, like:
- What is an employment class action lawsuit in Los Angeles CA?
- What are the requirements for a class action lawsuit in California?
- What are the overall benefits of an employment-based class action lawsuit?
- What are the general steps of an employment class action lawsuit in Los Angeles?
- Who should I contact about a class action lawsuit against an employer in Los Angeles?
If you believe you and your co-workers have had your employment rights violated by your employer, contact us at Sirmabekian Law Firm, PC. We provide thorough, compassionate employment law representation to our clients in the Los Angeles metro area.
A class-action lawsuit is a legal claim filed by a smaller group of people – known as the Class Representatives – filed on behalf of a larger group of people who have all been wronged or harmed in a similar way by the same defendant. An employment class action is a class action related to employment, and the wrong or harm done could involve any of the following:
- unpaid wages
- wage inequality
- wage theft
These are all related to an employer’s failure to perform its legal obligations or its violation of workers’ rights established by the State of California and the Federal government.
A class-action lawsuit is unlike an individual lawsuit – there are certain requirements that must be met in order for the action to continue. The requirements of a class action in California are summarized below.
- Impractical. If the class is so big that it would be impractical for each individual to file his or her own claim, then it satisfies this element. To be impractical, there must be a significant number of people at the place of employment who experience the same or similar violations.
- Commonality. Each individual claim must have similar factual and legal questions – the court will not hear individual claims that are in addition to the shared claims. This also means, however, that one defense can apply to each individual case within the class action. One ruling must be enough to cover all the claims.
- Typicality. There must be class representatives who represent the class, and they must protect the interests of each individual participating in the class action.
- Benefits. The class action must have some value or benefit. For example, if an employer broke the law, the class action can put an end to the employer’s bad practices via an injunction. As another example, a class action may be a more efficient means to address the wage theft or discriminatory practices of an employer rather than risking several inconsistent judgments that don’t influence the employer from changing its bad practices.
The benefits of an employment class action can be many, both for the individual participants and society-at-large. Some of the more obvious benefits include:
- Efficient use of resources. Time, money, talent, and other resources can be combined to do more with less and put forth a better strategy against a defendant who may already be armed with expensive lawyers.
- Effective use of court resources. With a class action, the court can save time, money, and other resources, too, by not have to expend the same for each individual claim.
- Retaliation avoidance. With only the class representative named in the complaint, all other participants are at less risk of retaliation (e.g., wrongful termination) since the employer may not know who all is participating.
- Policy changes. A verdict in favor of the class may mean an end to an employer’s bad practices, meaning discriminatory or unlawful policies may be terminated or revised to be in compliance with the law.
Class action lawsuits are unlike individual lawsuits with respect to the overall process – the process has to account for things like certifying the class action. Below is a summary of the typic steps in a class action.
- Filing. A complaint is filed on behalf of the entire class.
- Response. The employer responds to the complaint.
- Discovery. Attorneys on both sides gather evidence to support their case and provide each other with the evidence, expert reports, depositions, etc. Class representatives typically help with the discovery.
- Certification. A certification request is filed to ask the court to approve the class action. It’s not a ruling on the case, only a determination that the above-listed requirements are satisfied. If the certification is granted, the class action proceeds. If the certification is denied, each individual can proceed with their individual lawsuits.
- Notification. If the class action is certified, all members of the class are notified of the lawsuit. Members may choose to participate or to opt out. Typically, members may choose to opt out if they want to file their own lawsuit, but they lose the benefits associated with a class action.
- Settlement/Trial. All parties will negotiate, but if a settlement is not reached, the trial will ensue.
- Final Order. After a settlement or trial, the court will issue its final order on not the settlement or verdict amount. The “losing” party may choose to appeal the verdict, but cannot appeal a settlement.
- Appeal. If a verdict is appealed, the court will hear the appeal and decide the case.
If you and your co-workers believe your employer is somehow violating your employee rights by failing to pay you properly or discriminating against you, contact an experienced employment law attorney in Los Angeles immediately. These types of cases require quick, thorough, strategic action. At Sirmabekian Law Firm, PC, we dedicate our practice to you and your rights. Call us today at 818-473-5003 or complete an online form.
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