Class Action Lawsuits
One of the most common reasons that workers tolerate pay discrimination, wage and hour violations and other abusive practices on the job is that the individual harm they suffer does not seem large enough to merit legal action. The way many workers see it, they would rather quietly endure the injustice than risk their jobs by taking action. However, even seemingly small violations can add up to a lot over time. For instance, if you worked 45 hours per week but were misclassified as exempt from overtime, your unpaid overtime at time-and-one-half plus penalties could aggregate into a substantial amount of money. With penalties of up to three times your imputed hourly wage and interest, a small claim can quickly grow into a sizable claim. Even when the amount of unpaid overtime hours is smaller for a single worker, if the practice affects every worker onsite, the company may owe hundreds of thousands or even millions in wrongfully withheld wages.
For these situations, the class action exists to allow similarly situated workers to take joint action to address on-the-job violations. At the law firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP, our New York City employment law attorneys understand the intricacies of federal and state class action rules. We use class actions to vindicate groups of workers who have been deprived of wages or suffered discriminatory practices in a variety of industries.What is a class action?
A class action is a special type of lawsuit that exists under both federal and New York rules of civil procedure. One wronged worker is able to bring a legal suit on behalf of all others who have suffered substantially the same injustice. This group is called a class and each qualifying class member receives a share of the proceeds when the claim is ultimately resolved. Thus, a large number of people who each suffered a harm that, by itself, would not justify the expense of litigation, can pool their claims together to obtain an efficient and uniform resolution.Who can bring a class action?
The rules of procedure permit even just one plaintiff to bring a class action on behalf of the rest of the class. The exact qualifications for certification as a class depend on the rules of procedure in effect in the jurisdiction. Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs class certification in federal court, where most employment discrimination and wage and hour claims are brought. Under this rule, a class must satisfy the following requirements in order to proceed in the form of a class action:
Numerosity – The number of injured individuals must be large enough that it would be impractical for each to participate directly in the lawsuit as a named plaintiff. No bright line rule dictates how large a proposed class must be; the class size largely depends on the nature of the claim. However, classes as small as 25 have been certified for class action under the right circumstances, and 40 people are generally enough. If your employer had a high turnover, 15 current employees might be affected, but more than 40 former employees from the last six years might be included in the class.
Commonality – The facts and legal issues presented by each class member's claim must be substantially similar. Groups of workers who were all deprived a determinable amount of wages under the same employer policy are often able to satisfy this requirement.
Typicality – The named plaintiff who is actually prosecuting the claim on behalf of the class must have individual claims that are fairly typical of the class.
Adequacy – The court must be satisfied that the plaintiffs and their legal counsel are prepared to diligently and competently pursue the case on behalf of the entire class. As experienced class action attorneys well known to the federal judges in New York, our team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP is time and again certified as qualified class counsel.
Pursuing and administering class actions is a complex and demanding process that requires both experience and resources. Yet the class action is often the most practical and effective way to proceed when a large number of employees have been harmed by a single employer practice. As a comprehensive employment law firm in New York, Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP utilizes this valuable legal tool whenever it is in our clients' best interests. If you have lost wages or employment opportunities due to a systemic employer practice and you believe others have been similarly harmed, our NYC class action lawyers may be able to assist. Call our offices today to arrange a complimentary intake consultation. We are available at (212) 688-5640. We can also be reached online. Se habla espanol.