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Class Action Lawsuits for Labor Code Violations

There are certain times when your employer violates not only your rights but the rights of numerous other employees with their actions. When these violations are similar in scope across a group of employees, California law provides them with the opportunity to file what is known as a class action lawsuit.

In the context of California employment law, class action lawsuits serve as an important tool for employees to enforce their rights under the California Labor Code. California has some of the most protective labor laws in the country, and class action lawsuits can help ensure that these laws are properly enforced.

Experienced Legal Guidance From California Employment Lawyers

No matter what type of violation has occurred in your workplace, Maison Law will be there to stand up for your rights as an employee. Our team of California employment lawyers has extensive experience with all different types of cases, including class actions. We can help you and your fellow employees understand your legal options, and help you navigate this complex and challenging process to seek a positive outcome for the entire group. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact us today.

California Labor Code Violations and Class Actions

Because the California Labor Code is designed to cover a vast array of rights for employees, it’s not surprising that violations can sometimes lead to class action lawsuits. Generally speaking, a class action lawsuit allows for a more efficient and cost-effective resolution of the claims, as opposed to each individual worker pursuing separate legal action.

Not only that, but class action lawsuits also have the following benefits for groups of employees:

  • Increased access to justice – Class action lawsuits give individuals who may not have the resources to pursue legal action on their own, access to the legal system.
  • Efficient use of court resources – By consolidating similar claims into a single lawsuit, the court system can save time and resources.
  • Consistent treatment of similar claims – Class action lawsuits can help ensure that similarly situated plaintiffs are treated consistently and that defendants are held accountable for their actions.
  • Strength in numbers – The joining together of individual claims into a class action can increase the bargaining power of the plaintiffs and lead to a larger settlement or judgment.

Common Class Action Lawsuits

While any violation of the California Labor Code could be made into a class action lawsuit if it happens to enough employees, there are several common violations that are typically more likely to lead to a class action lawsuit. These usually include wage and hour violations, or more specifically, violations that occur because of a company policy. Here is a closer look at some of the more common class action lawsuits that employees in California pursue:

  • Unpaid overtime – Employers are required to pay non-exempt (hourly) employees for all hours worked, including overtime. A common class action lawsuit in California is for employees who were not paid overtime when they worked more than 8 hours in a day, more than 40 hours in a week, or more than 12 hours in a day.
  • Meal and Rest Break violations – Another common class action lawsuit is for employees who were not provided with the required meal and rest breaks. California law requires employers to provide meal and rest breaks to their employees based on the number of hours worked.
  • Misclassification of employees – Employers may misclassify their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes and benefits. A common class action lawsuit is for employees who were misclassified as independent contractors and should have been classified as employees.
  • Unpaid wages – California law requires employers to pay their employees for all hours worked, including regular and overtime wages. When a group of employees was not paid their regular wages, overtime wages, or final wages upon termination, it’s grounds for a class action lawsuit.
  • Unlawful deductions – Employers cannot make unlawful deductions from their employees’ wages, such as deductions for uniforms, tools, or equipment. Frequently, employees who had unlawful deductions taken from their wages file class action lawsuits to recover these wages.
  • Discrimination – Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their race, gender, age, religion, or disability. Employees who were subjected to discriminatory practices by their employer can band together for a class action lawsuit.
  • Failure to provide required notices – Employers are required to provide certain notices to their employees, such as wage statements and notices of changes to employment policies. A common class action lawsuit is for employees who were not provided with the required notices.

These are just a few examples of common class action lawsuits for California employees. If a group of employees believes that their employer has violated their labor rights, they may have grounds for a class action lawsuit. It is important to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to determine if a class action lawsuit is appropriate in their particular case.

How Does a Class Action Lawsuit Work in California?

In terms of the actual case, a class action lawsuit in California unfolds much the same way an individual lawsuit does. However, due to the nature of being a class action, the process works a bit differently. Not only are there certain requirements that have to be met, but there are certain steps that have to be taken in class actions that are unique. This includes the following:

  • Class certification – The first step in a class action lawsuit is to seek certification of the class by the court. The plaintiff(s) must demonstrate that the proposed class meets certain requirements, such as numerosity (there are too many members to reasonably join them all as individual plaintiffs), commonality (there are common questions of law or fact that are shared by all class members), typicality (the claims of the representative plaintiff(s) are typical of those of the rest of the class), and adequacy of representation (the representative plaintiff(s) will fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class).
  • Class notice – Once the class is certified, the court will order that notice be provided to all class members. The notice must inform class members of their right to participate in the lawsuit or opt out of the class. Opting out means that a class member chooses not to participate in the lawsuit and will not be bound by any judgment or settlement.
  • Discovery – After the class is certified and notice is given to the class members, both parties engage in discovery, which is the process of gathering evidence to support their claims. Discovery can include written discovery, depositions, and requests for documents.
  • Motion practice – Either party may file various motions during the litigation process. For example, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss the case or to decertify the class. The plaintiff(s) may file a motion for summary judgment or for class certification in the first place.

Resolution

The main question that many people have regarding class action lawsuits involves the resolution of the case. In an individual lawsuit, after all, only you have to make the decision whether or not to accept a settlement offer or go to trial.

However, in a class action lawsuit, the considerations of the entire class have to be taken into account. Since most class action lawsuits involve hundreds of members, the class representatives are the ones that are presented with any settlement offers and can then decide whether to accept on behalf of the class. Ultimately, though, resolution to the lawsuit comes in the following ways:

  • Settlement – The parties may agree to settle the case before trial or even before certification of the class. A settlement may involve payment of damages to the class members, changes to the defendant’s policies or practices, or other forms of relief.
  • Trial – If the case is not settled, it may proceed to trial. The trial will determine whether the defendant violated the labor code and, if so, the amount of damages owed to the class members.

Contact Maison Law For a Free Consultation

If you and your fellow employees believe that your employer is violating your rights under the California Labor Code, you have the option to band together and file a class action lawsuit. In order to make sure that your group meets the proper requirements, you should consult with our team of experienced California employment lawyers at Maison Law.

Our team can stand up for the rights of you and your fellow employees and will make sure to hold your employer accountable for violations of the Labor Code. We can handle all the responsibilities required for a class action lawsuit, so contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation to get started.

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