Employee Class Action Attorneys in California
Our class action attorneys in California handle breaches in state and federal employment law. If your rights have been violated, call us for a consultation.
When many people suffer the same type of harm caused by the same person or party, they can often consolidate their claims into a class action lawsuit. Class action lawsuits have many benefits for plaintiffs and the courts, including the ability for individuals to recover compensation that otherwise would not justify the expense of litigation and the efficiency in handling similar claims all at once. If you believe that you are part of a group that has suffered some sort of compensable harm, you should contact a class action lawyer at Blair & Ramirez LLP as soon as you can.
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Helping California employees bring wage & hour and misclassification lawsuits
Employees are entitled to certain legal protections under both state and federal wage and hour law. These protections include the right to fair wages, rest and meal breaks, vacation time, and overtime pay. In order to enjoy these protections, employees must be classified as non-exempt. In many cases, employers might wrongfully classify employees as exempt so they do not have to abide by wage and hour laws.
A closely related issue is that of employee misclassification, which relates to whether an employer classifies a worker as an employee or an independent contractor. This classification is important, as once a worker is classified as an employee, it triggers certain employer obligations and employee rights—such as the rights and obligations enumerated in both state and federal wage and hour laws. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many employers attempt to classify employees as independent contractors in an effort to avoid these obligations.
If you believe that your employer has been violating your rights or wrongfully miscategorizing you as an independent contractor, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as you can. At Blair & Ramirez LLP, we are dedicated to protecting employee rights and are ready to go up against the largest employers in the state. To schedule your free consultation with one of our class action attorneys in California, call our office today.
Common wage and hour violations
Both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California state wage and hour laws enforce certain standards for employers when it comes to when employees work and how they are compensated. California has some of the strictest wage and hour laws in the nation, with one of the highest minimum wage thresholds in the United States. Wage and hour laws guarantee that employees are not treated unfairly or taken advantage of by employers who inherently have greater power in the relationship. Unfortunately, some employers violate wage and hour laws—either intentionally or accidentally—and employees can incur serious losses as a result. Some of the more common wage and hour violations in California include the following:
- Failure to pay the minimum wage
- Failure to properly compensate tipped employees
- Failure to provide the necessary rest and meal breaks for employees
- Requiring employees to work during rest or meal breaks
- Not properly counting all hours worked
- Failure to pay non-exempt employees the proper overtime compensation
- Requiring employees to work when they should be off the clock
If federal and state wage and hour laws apply to you as an employee and your employer violates your rights under the law, you can take legal action to seek unpaid wages and other damages allowed by law. You should contact the best employment attorneys in Los Angeles for help.
Misclassification of employees
As mentioned above, FLSA and state wage and hour laws only protect employees who are considered to be non-exempt. Certain employees are exempt from these protections of the law, so employers are not obligated to pay overtime, carefully track hours, or abide by other requirements under wage and hour laws in regard to exempt employees.
While the law makes it clear who should be non-exempt or exempt, many employers misclassify certain workers as exempt when they should not be. For example, an employer might give an employee the title of "manager" when, in reality, they do not have managerial duties. This is one way employers might try to avoid paying overtime rates and complying with other provisions of the law. Misclassified employees can file lawsuits to prove their true classification as non-exempt and recoup the unpaid wages and overtime they should have received.
Another form of misclassification involves the classes of employees and independent contractors. Employees, so long as they are non-exempt, are protected by wage and hour laws. On the other hand, independent contractors do not have the same rights under the law. California uses the "ABC" test to determine whether someone is an independent contractor or not. Under this test, the requirements to be an independent contractor include:
- To be free from the control and direction of the hiring company while performing work.
- To perform work that is outside the usual scope of the company's business.
- To perform work that is within the scope of an independently established business, occupation, or trade.
Often, companies claim they do not have control over someone when they actually do in order to classify them as independent contractors and avoid compliance with the law. Such workers have the ability to file legal claims to fight against misclassification and recover the wages and damages they deserve. When many employees might be misclassified, you should contact our class action lawsuit attorneys in Los Angeles right away.
How to file a class action lawsuit
You should discuss a possible class action case with a Los Angeles class action law firm as soon as you can. Employment class actions are cases brought by a group of employees that have all had their rights violated in the same way by their common employer. These kinds of cases arise when an employer engages in systematic wage and hour or misclassification violations that affect a group of employees in the same way. For example, if an employer failed to pay an entire group of employees overtime in violation of state or federal law, that group of employees may be able to file a class action claim together instead of each aggrieved employee needing to file his or her own claim.
Class action claims often involve hundreds or even thousands of employees and millions of dollars in damages. Courts will only certify a class action when the number of individuals who are affected by the alleged violation is so large that it is impractical to try each case separately.
In order to file a class action lawsuit, you must file a claim and have it certified as a class action by the court. Certifying a claim means that the court reviews it and determines that it meets the requirements of a class action lawsuit. After you file your claim, you must serve your defendant-employer, notifying it of the existence of the claim and giving your employer an opportunity to respond.
At this point, your employer will likely file a motion to have the case dismissed on one or more procedural or substantive grounds. If the court allows the case to move forward, both sides will enter into a phase of litigation known as "discovery," in which both sides have the opportunity to request information from the other side. Provided that your case does not settle, it will then proceed to trial.
What percentage do lawyers take on class action claims?
Just like in other types of wage and hour lawsuits, lawyers handling class action claims generally work on a contingency basis. This means that they do not receive payment unless the class prevails in the case. If the class wins, the lawyers will take a percentage of the settlement fund.
The percentage of attorney's fees must be approved by the judge overseeing the class action, and the specific percentage will vary from case-to-case. Generally speaking, the approved percentage will be about 25 to 35 percent of the agreed-upon settlement fund. Imagine the following scenario:
- A class of 50 employees wins a settlement for unpaid wages of $300,000 from their employer.
- The lawyers' approved percentage is 30%, so the lawyers will receive $90,000 as their fees.
- The 50 employees will divide the remaining $210,000, which means they each receive $4,200 for unpaid wages.