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Court Refuses to Certify Wet Seal and Arden B Employee Wage Claims as a Class Action


While class actions can be beneficial and efficient for lawsuits involving multiple plaintiffs, those plaintiffs should always be careful to make sure they fit all the requirements of a class action before filing their lawsuit. The First District Court of Appeals has recently ruled with the San Francisco Superior Court that the former employees filing a lawsuit against Wet Seal are not eligible for class certification.

The class, had it been certified, would have consisted of about 12,000 former employees who had worked at 74 Wet Seal and Arden B. stores in California during the four years leading up to the complaint, which was filed in 2008. The lawsuit alleges that employees were required to purchase Wet Seal merchandise to wear at work without compensation. They also allege that they were regularly required to travel for work purposes (such as traveling to other store locations for meetings, training, etc.) without reimbursement.

Both the San Francisco Superior Court judge and the First District Court of Appeals has ruled that the plaintiffs are not suitable for class certification because of evidence that it was not company policy for employees to purchase or wear Wet Seal merchandise. There is also evidence that it was company policy to reimburse employees for work-related travel expenses. Some employees have testified that they were not required to purchase Wet Seal clothing and that they were reimbursed for travel expenses.

In fact, the clothing policy, as revised in 2005, explicitly states that “employees are not required to wear the Company’s clothing” and that employees were required to “reflect Wet Seal style during work hours” and to wear “clothing consistent with Wet Seal’s brand” if they did not own Wet Seal clothing. The company also has written policies providing for work-related travel expenses and had a standard form for employees to claim reimbursement.

If some employees were required to purchase Wet Seal merchandise against company policy, then the case can still be pursued by those individuals. Similarly, if certain employees were not reimbursed for travel-related expenses, those individuals can also pursue litigation. However, because of the conflicting testimony from plaintiffs, and because it is proven that the allegations were not part of company policy, they do not properly represent the entire class and cannot therefore be legally certified.

The attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating tip pool claims against Starbucks and other restaurant chains. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties. Our Evanston and Northbrook 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 misclassify 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 not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago wage and hour attorney by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.