Class Action FAQs: Should You Contact An Attorney For A Class Action Lawsuit?
What Is A Class Action Employment Law Case:
A “class action” is a lawsuit by a small group of people (called Plaintiffs/Class Representatives) on behalf of a larger group of people. In an employment class action, the plaintiffs are attempting to prove that the actions or negligence of an employer who is discriminating against a smaller group of employees is typical of the discrimination faced by the larger group of employees, based on a common factor such as their race, age, sex, etc.
Class actions are critical in the enforcement of national civil rights laws, because they are often the only way that individual employees can challenge discrimination from employers. With a class action, one lawsuit can vindicate the rights of a larger group of people where no individuals would otherwise have enough of an economic incentive to bring suit against the employer in a stand alone case. Class Action ensures that things like wage & hour, anti-discrimination and civil rights laws are adequately enforced.
Because class action lawsuits have been so successful in protecting the rights of employees and consumers, many businesses and employers have been fighting to restrict the ways in which class actions can be brought, resulting in the 2004 passage of the “Class Action Fairness Act.” This law moved many class actions from state courts to federal court, where it has historically been more difficult for workers to prevail.
Who Can Participate In A Class Action:
Class representatives in a class action not only represent themselves, they must also adequately and properly represent the interests of all other members of the class in both the money to be paid out and the changes that are to be made by the employer in the way it does business (this is called “injunctive relief”).
Class Representatives are required to help with the discovery conducted in the case, including answering written questions asked by the defendant (called interrogatories). The Class Representative is also responsible for providing answers to questions under oath before a court reporter (called a deposition). Additionally, although many law firms now pay the actual litigation costs, a class representative must be prepared to pay his or her percentage of the costs of the litigation if called on to do so.
As a result, even if the case is being handled on a contingency basis, the Class representative may be required to pay some amount of money to be held in trust toward the costs of the case. This money will be refunded to the Class Representative if they win or settle the case. Class representatives may also be required to travel at their expense to the place where the lawsuit was filed, the corporate headquarters, or some other mutually convenient location to have their deposition taken, and if the lawsuit is lost, could be held liable for their percentage of the costs of litigation.
The Hanrahan Firm has the expertise and specific experience of an employment litigation law office as well as the depth and resources needed for class action cases of every size and description whether in San Diego or throughout California.
When it comes to Employment Class Actions, The Hanrahan Firm handles matters in a wide variety of industries, involving numerous state and federal statutes and myriad issues. Contact us for all employment law matters including; wage-and-hour litigation, sex, race, age, and disability discrimination, as well as claims whistleblower retaliation. Let us help with all of your California claims involving overtime, pay statements, meal and rest periods, waiting time penalties, and other employment law issues.
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Class Action FAQs
Q. What is a class action employment case?
A. A class action is a lawsuit by a single person or small group of people (called plaintiffs/class representatives) on behalf of a larger group of people. In an employment class action, the plaintiffs attempt to prove that the actions or negligence of an employer who is unlawfully treating a smaller group of employees is typical of the unlawful treatment faced by the larger group of employees. The claims could be based on age discrimination, race discrimination, unpaid wages and more. Class actions are critical in the enforcement of employee rights, because they are often the only way that individual employees can challenge company-wide illegal treatment from employers. With a class action, one lawsuit can vindicate the rights of a larger group of people where no individuals would otherwise have enough of an economic incentive to bring suit against the employer in a single plaintiff case. Class actions work to ensure that things like wage and hour, anti-discrimination and civil rights laws are adequately enforced.
Q. What types of class actions may be filed?
A. Most class actions are filed to seek monetary damages. Occasionally, class actions are filed to seek a declaratory judgment, which is where the plaintiff asks the court to determine the rights of the parties. Finally, a class action may seek injunctive relief, in which case the plaintiff seeks an order from the court to prohibit the employer from continuing to engage in unlawful conduct.
Q. I got a notice of class action settlement. Can I be bound by the settlement or judgment of a class action?
A. Yes. If the court approves the settlement in the underlying action, all absent class members are bound to the judgment or settlement of the case. However, if the action is primarily for compensatory damages, absent class members are entitled to notice and an opportunity to “opt-out” (exclude themselves) from the case. If a person opts-out, he or she is not bound by any judgment or settlement of the class action.
Q. How do I join a class action?
A. Technically, class members do not “join” the class action lawsuit but decide to participate by not “opting-out.” In a class action lawsuit for monetary damages, any class member who does not “opt-out” is considered to have joined in the class action and will likely be bound by the results of the litigation if it proceeds as a class action. If a class member should determine, however, that he wants to participate in the suit as a named party, he may hire his own lawyer and seek to intervene participate in the lawsuit.