Published on:

Court Certifies Collective Action Against Gem Financial

In order for plaintiffs to file a class action lawsuit, they have to file a proposal with the court for their lawsuit to be certified as a class action. After that it’s the responsibility of the judge to determine if the plaintiffs meet the requirements for a class action.

There are several requirements plaintiffs need to fulfill in order to qualify for class action status, but the two most important are probably the need for enough plaintiffs to justify class action status (numerosity) and that the alleged violations were common practice with the defendant instead of an occasional incident or mistake (commonality).  There are a few different ways for plaintiffs to prove they fulfill these two requirements, including providing a list of potential class members and/or testimony from named plaintiffs.

In the case of the recent overtime class action lawsuit against Gem Financial Services Inc., a pawnshop chain, the testimony of two of the named plaintiffs was enough to convince U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan that the employees sufficiently satisfy the commonality requirement for initial certification of the class.

David D., Diori J., and Natacha T. are the three named plaintiffs who, together, filed the class action wage and hour lawsuit against Gem Financial.

Diori worked as an accountant for Gem Financial and she alleged they made her submit inaccurate time records and pay employees the incorrect amount on a regular basis.

Natacha worked in human resources at Gem and part of her job was to visit the company’s pawnshops and field complaints from employees. She alleges she regularly listened to workers complain about allegedly getting stiffed on overtime compensation and that she allegedly observed a regular practice of rounding down clock hours so employees were not paid for all the time they spent working.

In his decision to grant preliminary certification, Judge Cogan pointed out that the experiences of these two employees were sufficient to provide an idea of what the day-to-day payment practices at Gem Financial are like. He has ordered the two parties to meet in order to discuss the language to be used in a notice that will be sent to potential class members to give them an opportunity to opt in to the class and take advantage of any award or settlement that might come out of it.

So far, the plaintiffs have only attained an initial certification, which means if they don’t get enough employees opting into the collective action alass, or if Gem Financial can provide evidence to show the pay practices were not widespread, the plaintiffs might lose their certification.

Gem Financial Services is the corporate parent of Gem Pawnbrokers and owns 28 retail locations in New York and currently employes more than 130 workers. It is unlikely that all 130 employees will decide to opt in, but if enough current and former employees join the class, the plaintiffs have a good shot at maintaining their certification and making their case before a court that they were regularly denied wages as part of Gem Financial’s alleged systematic pay practices.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Petsmart, Officemax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Gem Financial, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco, PetSmart, REI and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at one of our offices near Elgin and Aurora  at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.