Articles Posted in Class Action

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Although arbitration was not designed to handle class actions or collective actions, mediation with the help of an arbitrator can be achieved for a group of plaintiffs, with the help of class representatives, as in the recent wage and hour lawsuit against Google Fiber Inc. and ITC Service Group Inc.

Google Fiber hired ITC as a contractor to install and service Google’s products in Kansas City, one of the cities in which Google provides its own brand of internet and TV services. While working on Google Fiber’s products, employees for ITC allege they were made to perform work for which they were never paid, including work they performed before their shifts began, and work they did over their unpaid lunch breaks when they were “clocked out.”

The lawsuit further alleged supervisors were misclassified as exempt from overtime, even though they allegedly did not meet all the requirements for the FLSA’s overtime exemption.

When the lawsuit was first filed, ITC was the only defendant listed on the complaint, but Google Fiber was later added as a second defendant. Not only were the ITC workers performing work for Google Fiber, but they also allege that they were made to announce themselves as Google employees and wear gear bearing the Google brand while on the job. As a result, the complaint alleged Google was at least partially responsible for the alleged wage and hour violations. Continue reading

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Since federal courts tend to rule in favor of Big Business, most companies prefer to dispute overtime lawsuits in federal court, but their ability to do so has some limitations. Among those limitations is the requirement that the total amount of the claims for which plaintiffs are filing add up to at least $5 million.

According to a California federal judge, an overtime class action lawsuit against Bank of America did not meet that requirement, so Judge Vince Chhabria granted the plaintiff’s request to remand the case back to Alameda County Superior Court.

Bank of America allegedly underpaid its business bankers by refusing to properly compensate them for the hours they worked after eight hours in a day or forty hours a week. In its motion to have the case moved to federal court, Bank of America alleged the claims involved, plus the attorneys’ fees and legal costs, added up to at least $8 million.

Judge Chhabria did not follow the bank’s logic, since that number assumes each plaintiff worked 2.5 hours of overtime for 90% of the weeks in the proposed class period.

Laura Lopez, one of the named plaintiffs in the proposed class action lawsuit, provided evidence that she did not actually work that many hours of overtime for most of the weeks included in the class period – some weeks she worked no overtime and she was on vacation for others. Continue reading

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Many children have big dreams of growing up to become a professional athlete and get paid millions of dollars to play their favorite sport. For baseball players, the best way to get into the major leagues is by playing in the minor leagues, which acts as a feeder system on which the major league clubs rely to get their newest star players.

But the minor league players don’t see anywhere near the amount of money the major league players make, despite the fact that they work just as hard as, if not harder than, those playing in the major leagues. According to a recent class action lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB), minor league players allegedly worked more than 50 hours a week on a regular basis during the season, and yet some of them were paid as little as $1,100 per month.

The MLB insists the players don’t have a case – that the number of hours each player spent working varies too much to justify a class action lawsuit, and that baseball players don’t qualify as hourly workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Continue reading

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In order for plaintiffs to successfully file a class action or collective action lawsuit against a common defendant, one of the things they need to be able to prove is that they were all subject to the same, systematic treatment by the defendant. In wage and hour class action lawsuits, this means the alleged misconduct needs to be a standard part of the defendant’s practices. Even an unwritten rule can be subject to a large lawsuit if it resulted in employees consistently receiving the same treatment.

When plaintiffs from six different states all allege they were subjected to similar mistreatment by their employer, their petition for class action or collective action stands a pretty good chance of getting the OK from a judge.

In early 2014, seven current and former service technicians for General Electric Co. all alleged they had not been properly compensated for the time they spent working under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and various state laws. The technicians worked for the power company in Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida. Not only was their petition for collective action granted, but the wage and hour lawsuit was also combined with a similar lawsuit that had been filed in Florida against GE the year before. Continue reading

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When a class of plaintiffs wins their class action lawsuit against their defendant, or the case settles outside of court, it is common practice for the named plaintiffs to receive at least a few thousand dollars each, in addition to their share of the award or settlement amount. This extra share is known as an incentive award and is meant to encourage potential plaintiffs to file class action lawsuits against large defendants, which tend to be large corporations that have much more leverage than the plaintiffs, both in business and in the courts.

But a Florida judge recently refused the incentive awards for the six named plaintiffs who filed a class action overtime lawsuit against their former employer, Hartford Fire Insurance Co. Despite the fact that he approved the rest of the $3.7 million to settle the legal dispute, U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton said the plaintiffs had not submitted sufficient evidence to show that the named plaintiffs had significantly contributed to the case or taken any serious risks. Continue reading

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Class actions are a powerful and important tool for individuals with similar claims against a common defendant. Often, the defendant is a large, powerful corporation with a team of expensive attorneys at its disposal. Most employees and consumers do not have the resources to take on these corporations in court on their own, not to mention the fact that their individual claims are usually too small to justify the expenses associated with filing a lawsuit.

The class action solves all these problems. It allows individuals with similar complaints against a common defendant to combine their claims into one, large claim. It also provides them with the leverage they need to arm themselves with competent legal representation.

But plaintiffs looking to combine their claims need class certification from a court judge, and in order to get that, they need to prove the class meets certain requirements.

One of those requirements is that all the members of the class must have claims and situations that are similar enough to justify filing all their claims together. This is a common target for defendants to attack, often claiming that plaintiffs are not eligible for class certification because their situations are not exactly identical. This view was perpetuated in the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Wal-Mart a few years ago, but many judges are still certifying class actions all over the country and maintaining that their certifications are still in line with both the relevant class action law and the Supreme Court’s decision. Continue reading

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Employees working in sales are not always eligible for overtime compensation when they work more than eight hours a day or forty hours a week, but employers can’t just give a worker the title of “sales representative” and think that’s enough to classify them as exempt from overtime.

Although the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does allow certain employees to be held exempt from the requirement to pay one and one-half times their normal hourly wage for overtime spent working, the legislation is very specific about the requirements employees need to meet in order to qualify for the exemption. Nevertheless, many employers are always looking for ways to save a buck and the methods they choose are not always legal. Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime compensation, even when they don’t qualify, is a common way for employers to get the most amount of work out of their employees for the lowest cost.

According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Herr Foods Inc., the potato chip manufacturer allegedly violated the FLSA and Pennsylvania wage laws by refusing to pay their delivery drivers the proper overtime compensation when they worked more than forty hours a week. According to the complaint, the delivery drivers were called “route sales representatives” and were paid a salary in addition to a commission that was based on the sales the drivers made to retailers on their delivery routes. That method of payment allegedly did not cover proper overtime compensation for the drivers, who claim they worked 50 hours per week on average. Continue reading

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Objectors of a recent wage and hour lawsuit against Labor Ready Southwest Inc., a temp agency, are opposing the class action lawsuit, claiming it was filed merely as a catalyst to try to prompt the company to improve its employment practices. But even if that was the reason (or one of the reasons) for filing the lawsuit, it doesn’t mean the claims of the plaintiffs don’t have merit. In fact lawsuits are often pursued with the hope the defendant will change its ways.

Labor Ready has reached a settlement agreement with the 206,000 employees who filed the class action wage and hour lawsuit against the company alleging the temp agency violated federal and California wage laws. According to the wage and hour lawsuit, which was filed in California, Labor Ready allegedly violated California labor law by failing to provide regular meal and rest breaks for its employees.

Under California labor law, all hourly, nonexempt employees are entitled to one paid, uninterrupted rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours they spend working. For every five hours worked, employees are entitled to one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break lasting at least half an hour. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, she is entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages, bonuses, and tips earned that day. Continue reading

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The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was created to prevent employers from taking advantage of their workers. The law accomplishes this by defining things like overtime and minimum wage. Currently, overtime is defined as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25, but employers are required to pay all their hourly, nonexempt workers one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked.

In order to make sure all employers conducting business in the U.S. adhere to these regulations, the FLSA requires businesses to maintain accurate records of the amount of time their employees spent working. If an employer fails to pay their workers for all the time they worked, the employees can have a very difficult time trying to prove their case if the employer did not maintain accurate records.

When a class of workers sued their employer, Tyson Foods, for allegedly failing to pay them for all the time they spent working, Tyson tried to have the case dismissed based on the fact that the lack of records meant the employees were unable to claim damages. Continue reading

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Shortly after a major recession, stories of people losing their jobs are common, but those lost jobs are usually a result of a company downsizing and eliminating that employee’s position. It’s less common to hear a story of an employee with a good track record losing their job so their employer can hire cheap foreign labor, but the lead plaintiffs in two new lawsuits against Disney, HCL, and Cognizant, allege that’s exactly what happened to them after they had dedicated several years to working at the major entertainment company.

Leo Perrero and Dena Moore filed separate, but similar, complaints seeking class action status against Disney and the two global consulting companies. According to the complaints, Disney is allegedly colluding with HCL and Cognizant to abuse H-1B visas that are meant to bring in temporary workers from overseas. Continue reading