Articles Posted in Class Action

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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

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Hiring drivers can sometimes create problems for certain companies. As employers, companies are responsible for all business-related expenses, but those can be difficult to calculate when something (such as an employee’s car) is used for both work and the employee’s personal use.

Most companies have a system in place for calculating how much to reimburse their delivery drivers who use their own vehicles. Sometimes it’s based on the hours the employee works, the miles driven, or the number of deliveries made. But when delivery drivers claim they have not been properly compensated, they can claim allegations of failure to pay minimum wage and unfair business practices.

According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit filed against Pizza Hut of America Inc., the restaurant chain allegedly underpaid its delivery drivers working in the state of Florida. The lawsuit was filed by several plaintiffs in March 2014 on behalf of all Pizza Hut’s Florida delivery drivers. It alleged the company regularly under-reimbursed its drivers for the expenses they incurred in the course of making deliveries, including the costs of gas, insurance, and vehicle maintenance. The result of this alleged failure to properly reimburse the drivers meant the total pay the drivers received was allegedly less than the legally mandated minimum wage. The wage and hour complaint alleged violations of Florida labor law, as well as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Continue reading

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When an employee quits her job or is fired from her position, her employer is required to pay her all the wages she earned up until the termination of her employment, including any paid time off she may have accrued while working for that employer. According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit, Extended Stay America (ESA Management LLC) allegedly failed to provide its employees with all the wages they had earned, including compensation for their unused paid time off when their employment was terminated.

The wage and hour lawsuit was filed in California, so it has filed for claims under California labor law. In addition to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which defines overtime and minimum wage for all employees working throughout the country, each state and city has their own labor laws to protect the employees working there. As a result, every company conducting business in the United States has to be sure to abide by all relevant local laws, as well as federal labor laws. Continue reading

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Women can spend a lot of money on makeup, hair care, and hygiene. It’s normally considered a personal expense, but if part of a woman’s job requires her to wear makeup and do her hair, then the costs associated with it should be considered business expenses.

Cheerleaders for football teams in the NFL have traditionally been classified as independent contractors, despite the fact they allegedly don’t meet the qualifications for an independent contractor. Because the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not extend to independent contractors any of the protections it affords employees, the FLSA is very specific about the types of workers that can legally qualify as independent contractors. Continue reading