Class, Collective, and Representative Lawsuits
Klein Law Group, LLP handles complex litigation, including class actions, collective actions, and representative actions under California’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (known as “PAGA”). Through these types of lawsuits, we prosecute wage and hour claims of many similarly-situated employees in an efficient manner. Class, collective and PAGA actions empower employees by allowing them to hire attorneys in cases in which their individual claims are relatively small and when an individual representation may be impractical or highly inefficient. In cases when an employer has committed California Labor Code violations against a large group of employees, the employee’s individual damages may be too small for any attorney investigate and take a case to trial because litigation costs will far exceed any potential recovery. However, by filing a class, collective or representative action, attorneys may pool all individual claims together and ask the court to resolve the entire matter on a class-wide basis to recover damages for all similarly-situated employees who were subjected to the same Labor Code violations.
The California Supreme Court, in Gentry v. Superior Court, 42 Cal. 4th 443 (2007), has recognized the importance of class actions in litigating wage and hour cases. First, individual awards in wage cases tend to be modest, so the availability of class procedures plays “an important function. . . by permitting employees . . . a relatively inexpensive way to resolve their disputes.” Second, class actions allow employees, who may otherwise be deterred from filing an individual suit for fear of retaliation, to safely have their “day in court” as a member of the larger group. Finally, class actions serve to inform and protect employees who, for one reason or another, may not otherwise be aware that their rights have been violated.
Therefore, class, collective, and PAGA actions allow employees to band together and equalize bargaining power against large employers who have unlimited resources.
Class action cases typically have one or more named plaintiffs, who may be appointed by the court as class representatives. To serve as class representatives, the name plaintiffs must demonstrate to the court that their claims are common and typical of the claims of all other members of the class. The courts have discretion to award the class representative an “incentive award.” The incentive awards are meant to compensate class representatives for work done on behalf of the class, to make up for financial or reputational risk undertaken in bringing the action, and, sometimes to recognize their willingness to act as a private attorney general.
Klein Law Group, LLP has successfully prosecuted many class, collective and PAGA actions, concerning the following violations:
- Failure to pay minimum wage or overtime;
- Failure to pay for all hours worked, including travel time, waiting time, and “off-the-clock” hours;
- Failure to pay premiums for missed or unlawful meal and rest periods;
- Failure to reimburse employment-related expenses; and
- Unlawful deductions from wages.
Investigating, prosecuting, and administering class, collective, and PAGA actions is a complex and demanding process that requires both experience and resources. If you believe your employer denied certain wages in violation of California Labor Code due to a uniform unlawful practice and you believe your co-workers have been similarly harmed, Klein Law Group, LLP may be able to assist.