Class actions are an important tool for plaintiffs, particularly in the corporate world. Any time that multiple plaintiffs have the same or similar complaint against a company, it is most efficient for all parties involved to handle the case as one large lawsuit. Class actions also provide plaintiffs with greater leverage against defendants, which is often necessary when the defendant is a large corporation with a team of lawyers at its disposal.
Some people have argued though, that plaintiffs sometimes abuse the privileges conveyed by class action status by filing the lawsuit in the court that the plaintiffs know will be more favorable to their side, also known as “forum shopping”. In order to prevent this, the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) was enacted in 2005 to give defendants the option of moving a lawsuit to federal court if the case met certain requirements.
These requirements include that the class must be sufficiently large, the amount involved in the dispute must be at least $5 million, and more than one third of the class members must be from a different state than the one in which the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit. In order for a defendant to move a lawsuit to federal court, they must be able to prove that the case meets all of these requirements.
In a recent class action lawsuit against Bay Bread LLC and two co-defendants, the parties are disputing whether the lawsuit belongs in federal court. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in California state court and they insist that it belongs there, but the defendants are attempting to have the case moved to federal court.
The lawsuit was initially filed by the lead plaintiffs, Norma Serrano and Maria Grande. In their complaint, Serrano and Grande allege that they worked at a Bay Bread factory in South San Francisco, as well as a bakery in Newark, which is owned by the co-defendant Fullbloom Baking. According to the lawsuit, while working at both locations, the plaintiffs were allegedly denied payment of all of the wages that they earned, and they were also denied adequate rest breaks.
According to California labor law, all hourly workers are entitled to a paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours that they spend working. For every five hours of work, California employees are entitled to an unpaid meal break lasting at least half an hour. In the event that an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, the employee is entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages earned that day.
One of the co-defendants included in the lawsuit is Aerotek Inc., a temporary staffing agency that supplied temporary workers for the other co-defendants. The agency was included in the lawsuit because, although the employees were performing work for La Boulange bakery, they were technically employees of Aerotek. Aerotek is therefore liable for any violations of labor law against the temporary workers.
Because the class of plaintiffs includes temporary workers, the defendants argue that the lawsuit belongs in federal court, due to the fact that temporary workers are transient by nature. However, the plaintiffs argue that 99.7 percent of the class members live in California, which means it is proper to keep the lawsuit in California state court.
According to the defendants, the class action wage and hour lawsuit should be moved to federal court due to the fact that they anticipate that the class will consist of at least 1,200 employees and the claims could add up to as much as $7 million. However, where all of those defendants live is still an important issue.
So far, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson is leaning in favor of the plaintiffs. He has said that the defendants need to provide further grounds to support leaving the case in federal court. “Given that 99.7 percent of [the class members] live here,” said Judge Henderson, “It’s reasonable to conclude that two-thirds are California citizens.” Defendants deny all the claims in the case and assert they did nothing wrong.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Oak Park and Schaumburg. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Wheaton and Aurora overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.