A “class action” is a civil suit brought by one or more people on behalf of themselves and others who are similarly situated. This means that all are part of a group of individuals in a substantially similar circumstance where the common issues are the most critical to the lawsuit. For example, a class action would be appropriate if a large number of employees don’t get paid overtime or are not given meal breaks.
The inquiry in a class action lawsuit is always typicality, commonality, and numerosity. It is this latter concept (ie, the number of employees affected by the alleged illegal practice) that is the most difficult to satisfy. Generally, courts are reluctant to certify classes of less than 50; but in one case, 19 employees were able to satisfy this requirement. It is not unheard of to ask the court to certify sub-classes as well (say, some employees are complaining only about breaks missed while others in the same lawsuit are improperly classified as “exempt” and denied overtime).
Common class action factors
Class action lawsuits are a popular method to have multiple (in some cases, thousands) of individual claims heard and decided in one lawsuit. Danz & Associates has been the lead attorney or co-counsel in numerous lawsuits as such in consumer affairs and employment-related matters. All such lawsuits have several things in common:
- Numerosity of claimants such that it is more efficient to hear all claims than individual cases. We have seen classes of as few as 20 to as many as 5,000 certified. We are currently litigating a wage and hour class action for management employees who have been docked for taking less than a full day off, say to see their doctor. This class has over 3,000 workers.
- Commonality and typicality of claims. All claimants are basically alleging a violation of a single primary right. In the recent case of Dukes vs Walmart, the issue was the “glass ceiling” which female management employees were facing. (The US Supreme Court determined that this was not an appropriate class matter so that the cases will still go forward as individual claims in hundreds of courthouses across the country). Other similar claims might involve failure to pay overtime, allow for rest or meal breaks, etc.
- Damages are likely to be different in each case, and this is not a ground to deny class certification. However, the damages must all flow from the same common illegality, such as failure to pay overtime. Then, it is a simple mathematical formula to determine how much each worker is entitled to.
In many cases, we have filed “quasi-class actions”. This works well in cases where the damages are low and the number of members is also low. For example, under California’s Private Attorney General Action (Labor Code 2699) the court can authorize payment to quasi-class members. Another type of quasi-class action is the WARN ACT (both state and federal). These laws (California WARN is slightly different from federal WARN) provide that workers should be given at least 60 days’ notice of plant closure. If they are not given this, and it would not be hard for the employer to give the notice, then pay for the number of days less than 60 may be authorized, along with other damages.
Finally, we have filed numerous claims for relief under California’s Unfair Business Practices Act, B & P Code 17200-17500, Injunctive relief and disgorgement can be given to all members of the class, along with reimbursement of attorney fees.
The cases we handle
Stephen Danz & Associates is California’s largest statewide law firm that’s dedicated to representing employees in disputes against their employers. Stephen Danz & Associates based in Los Angeles, California, protects clients from retaliation, discrimination, and harassment involving dismissal, demotion, or denial of accommodation based on age, race, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation, marital status, association, physical or mental disability, or other legally protected classifications. Additionally, we represent employees if they have not been paid the proper wages including overtime or minimum wage as well as not given the proper meal breaks.
If you believe that you and other employees are victims of discrimination, retaliation, harassment, or wage violations please contact one of our Class Action Law Suit Attorneys in California to set up your free consultation to discuss this matter. We take cases on a contingency basis and collect no attorney fees unless we win your case.
If you believe you have suffered damages along with numerous other co-workers, we’d be pleased to consult with you and discuss your class action options. Class representatives are entitled to an additional court-approved fee, for their time and effort in assisting your attorneys in representing the class. Please contact Steve Danz directly to discuss your potential class action at 877 789 9707 or fill out our online contact form.