CALL ACTION LAWSUITS
Definition of a Class Action
A Class Action Lawsuit is a lawsuit brought by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of a large group of people who have at least one common legal claim. In a wage and hour context, it basically means that a group of employees were not paid their wages correctly by the employer in a similar way.
The Purpose of Class Actions
The ability to file a class action wage claim lawsuit allows employees to band together to combat the actions of larger and more powerful companies. Class actions also allow employees or are class members, but not the person bringing the suit, to sit back and let others help them recover their wages and penalties without fear of retaliation against their job. Class action lawsuits also protect tax payer money. If several thousand individuals file a lawsuit against the same employer for the same wage violations, then the Court must find judge, jury, and staff time for several thousand trials. Further, every time an issue arises in the cases, it would have to set a hearing. Saving thousands of trials and hearings is very efficient way for the court system to determine the rights of the parties. As shown below, wage and hour lawsuits can easily fit within the class action structure, letting one or a few class representatives help thousands of coworker class members recover their wages and penalties.
Examples of Potential Wage & Hour Class Actions
There are endless situations where a wage and hour class action lawsuit could be brought. Here are a few examples where a wage clam class action suit likely is superior to bringing an individual wage claim lawsuit:
Alterations and Rounding
Employers use electronic time clocks to under report time and reduce the wages for a group of employees. Sometimes the employer programs the time clock to automatically change start and stop times which results in the class member employees not being paid for all the time they work. Sometimes the employer programs the time clock to add in lunches that were never provided to the employee class members. This is essentially a deduction of a full 30 minute or one hour of work time to account for the lunches that were not taken. Sometimes the electronic time clocks will even track the actual work and the changed work. A wage and hour class action lawsuit can be brought to remedy an employer’s choice to improperly record hours worked. Time Clock Page.
Minimum Wage Claims
Employer pays less than minimum wage to a large group of employees either by not counting all hours worked, or by paying at a rate lower than the minimum wage rate. (Oregon Minimum Wage Page). This could also be caused by not increasing the minimum wage when the minimum rate has increased. (Washington Minimum Wage Page). For instance, on July 1, 2018, Oregon increased their minimum wage. The Oregon minimum wage is between $10.50 and $12.00 per hour depending upon where the work is performed. ON July 1, 2019, it will go up again to between $11.00 and $12.50. A wage and hour class action lawsuit can be maintained to recover minimum wages due under a common employer scheme to avoid payment of minimum wages. Here is a minimum wage case that was written up in the New York Times.
One type of class action lawsuits are where employers misclassify certain positions as exempt from overtime. (Oregon Overtime Page); (Washington Overtime Page). An example would be where the employer pays managers of their small stores by the hour. One of the requirements for the management exemption is that employees be paid a salary. If the employer employs hundreds at this management position, all the maagers are likely due overtime wages and a class action lawsuit can be filed to recover unpaid overtime wages, civil penalty, and if employment has ended, penalty wages. All this can be accomplished for all employees in this position at the same time through a class action lawsuit.
Oregon Wage Deductions
Employers often make mass deductions from employees. For instance, where an employer deducts uniforms from a large group of employees who are paid minimum wage, the deductions are likely unlawful. In such situations, all employees who were subject to the deduction likely have an unlawful deduction wage claim lawsuit. These employees could recover the greater of the deducted wages or $200. In addition, for those employees whose employment ended because they quit or were fired, the deducted wages remained unpaid. Those deducted wages cause another claim for several thousand in penalty wages for the late payment of final wages. This claim may also be brought as a class action.
Mass layoff and
Late Payment Claims
Employer lays off 300 employees without providing 60 days notice under the WARN Act. (WARN Act). Or where the employer is in Oregon and fails to timely pay the final wages. (Oregon Late Pay Page). A wage and hour class action lawsuit can be brought to remedy mass layoff situations affecting timely final payments or the WARN act. Class action lawsuits can also be brought to collect unpaid wages and penalty wages where the employer did not pay for all wages that were due and a group of employees no longer work there. For example, where the employer requires the employee go through bag checks or security checks before leaving the premises, but after the employer stops paying wages.
Former Clients Have Expressed A Desire to Bring A Wage and Hour Class Action wage claim for the Following Reasons
1. Strength in numbers. Often large employers do not change the way they do business because one person filed a lawsuit against them. It is often less expensive to pay the individual’s lawsuit than correct the underlying unlawful conduct. However, class actions are different. Where the employer is required to pay a group of employees’ claims because of a class action, the cost to the employer is often too high to ignore. In addition to paying class to all the employees, large employers faced with class action lawsuits also have increased the cost of litigating the case. Their own attorneys can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sometimes they can cost millions. So ignoring a class action is much more difficult.
2. Concern for co-workers. Employees who represent co-workers in class actions (“class representatives”) often care what happens to their coworkers and simply feel good about helping their current or former co-workers.
3. Concern for future employees. Class representatives have also mentioned that they do not want future employees of the employer to go through what they did. By filing class action lawsuits, some class representatives have stated that they hope to stop the illegal actions of the employer.
When Can Employees File Class Action Lawsuits?
There are many complex requirements for filing class action wage claim lawsuits. The requirements vary depending upon which court you file and prosecute your case, and the specific facts supporting your case.
In Oregon state courts, the employee must prove the elements of Oregon Class Action Statute (“ORCP 32”) to prosecute a case in Oregon as a class action:
- Numerosity: The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.
- Commonality: Common questions of law or fact exist.
- Typicality: The claims of the representative are typical of the class members as a whole.
- Adequacy of Representation: The representative will fairly and adequately represent the class.
- Notice: Proper notice was sent by the class representative.
- Superiority: Show that a class action is superior to other ways to prosecute the case. There are multiple factors the Court is required to consider in making these findings. These factors focus on whether a class action is more beneficial or efficient than having multiple individual cases. For instance, one such factor ask the Court to look at the extent that common class facts or law will predominate over facts or law that only apply to individuals. It also looks to whether a ruling for the individuals who brought the class action will essentially be a ruling for the entirety of the class.
In federal courts, the employee must prove similar factors to prosecute a case as a class action. Federal Class Action Statute (“FRCP 23”). While at first blush, the factors to prove for Oregon class actions and federal class actions may seem identical, they are not. Courts interpret the class action rules in ORCP 32 and FRCP 23 very differently. Each court has its own case law interpreting the rules that must be met to maintain a class action. Here are the factors the federal court considers in most wage and hour class actions:
- Numerosity: Whether the class of employees is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable.
- Commonality: Whether there are common questions of law or fact exist for all class action members.
- Typicality: The claims of the representative (person who files lawsuit) are typical of the class members as a whole.
- Adequacy of Representation: The representative (person who files lawsuit) will fairly and adequately represent the class.
- Predominance: The Court looks at the extent that common facts or law that apply to all class action members will predominate over facts or law that only apply to individuals. It also considers whether the class members have an interest in controlling their own case; other litigation already proceeding; desirability of concentrating all class claims in one class action lawsuit; and the difficulties the trial court expects in managing the case as a class action.
These class action factors, whether looking at Oregon class actions or federal class actions, seem very fairly straight forward. However, each class action rule has very specific legal meanings that must be proven to bring a class action lawsuit. Many times, the issue of whether the case proceeds as a class action is a much harder fought than the merits of the claims themselves. This is because the stakes for the employer are so much greater in class actions. For instance, if one employee proves that he should have been paid his vacation wages at termination. Then the employee has unpaid vacation wages plus a few thousand in penalty wages for his/her late pay claim. If you figure $3,000 per late pay claim, and there are 500 employees in the same situation, then the claim is for $1,500,000. If the case is filed as a class action, but the employer convinces the trial court that it should not have been, then the lawsuit changes from $1,500,000 to $3,000. Not to mention that the attorney fees to prosecute class actions and defend class actions is significantly higher. This is where the class action experience that Schuck Law’s lawyers bring to the table really pays off.
Class Action Wage Claim Lawyers
The wage claim attorneys (lawyers) at Schuck Law, LLC focus their law practice on wage claim and class action wage claim lawsuits. Our wage claim attorneys regularly prosecute Oregon wage claim lawsuits for employees and have significant experience in prosecuting wage and hour class action lawsuits. In addition to the claims for damages outlined in this website for wage claim violations, an employee may also sue to recover their costs, disbursements, and attorney fees incurred in prosecution of the class action wage and hour lawsuit. This allows the wage claim attorneys at Schuck Law, LLC to take most wage claim lawsuits and class action wage claim lawsuits on a contingency fee basis.
The wage claim attorneys (lawyers) at Schuck Law, LLC prosecute Oregon class action wage claim lawsuits throughout Oregon, including but not limited to, Portland, Astoria, Beaverton, Bend, Portland, Clackamas, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Portland, Hillsboro, Hood River, Klamath Falls, Portland, Lincoln City, Madras, McMinnville, Portland, Medford, Portland, Sandy, St. Helens, and Tillamook. The wage claim attorneys (lawyers) at Schuck Law, LLC also prosecute Washington class action wage claim lawsuits throughout Washington, including, but not limited to Seattle, Vancouver.