Class actions are one of the most complicated forms of litigation. Class actions can involve hundreds or thousands of potential plaintiffs, with the potential for exposing a company to millions of dollars in damages. Locke Lord’s labor and employment attorneys have extensive experience guiding companies through the entire range of class actions that can arise.
In the area of labor and employment law, class actions most frequently arise in the wage and hour context, such as claims for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or state law. Class actions under the FLSA are termed “collective actions” and have different rules than class actions under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or state law (e.g., FLSA class members affirmatively opt in rather than opting out). Class actions can also arise under laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, such as where a job applicant claims, on behalf of a class of similarly situated individuals, that a company’s hiring practices have a disparate impact on minorities. Companies engaged in mass layoffs sometimes face class action claims under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. Pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act or analogous state laws are another common form of class action litigation. Locke Lord’s labor and employment attorneys have extensive experience in these and other matters.
One of the first lines of defense for a company faced with a putative class action is to challenge the plaintiff’s claim that class action treatment is appropriate. If the company can convince the court that a class should not be certified, the case becomes a much more manageable single-plaintiff case with limited damage exposure. Locke Lord’s labor and employment attorneys are adept at addressing class certification issues in both state and federal court, and have often defeated plaintiffs’ class certification motions with novel and creative strategies.
Even where a court certifies a class, there are many ways for experienced attorneys to help a company minimize its risk. Many class actions settle, and Locke Lord’s labor and employment attorneys have helped clients settle class actions. Where settlement is impossible or impractical, Locke Lord attorneys have the experience and determination to take class action cases through trial if necessary.
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