Class Actions and Collective Actions
There is strength in numbers. If an employer is not paying you minimum wage or overtime, chances are that he is not paying his other employees fairly either. Because failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, or misclassifying employees as managers, administrators or independent contractors is often an employer’s policy and practice affecting a group of employees, wage and benefit claims can often be brought in a class action or collective action.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (Federal wage law) and the New York Labor Law have very specific standards to prevent wage theft. Your situation may be similar to other employees. For example, all of you working at the restaurant are paid less than the minimum wage or don’t get overtime or have to share your tips with management. Or, you work in an office and your job duties don’t make you exempt from overtime, but your employer misclassifies you as managers, or as administrators, or independent contractors. In these situations, you can band together as a group and bring your claims together.
A few of you (or even one person) can bring a law suit on behalf of yourselves and others who are similarly situated. If there are a number of similar employees, the court may certify a class, and other employees will receive a notice about joining you in the law suit. That way, each of you can assert your individual claims in a unified way. Some of you may have worked for a longer period, or have worked more hours per week, but all of your claims can be unified in one legal action and dealt with according to law and in a fair manner. When you work together, the employer may be less likely to try to retaliate against you for asserting your rights. And employer retaliation for making claims that you were not paid according to law are prohibited.
For so called “collective actions” under Federal Law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the court will want to know whether a group of employees were all subject to a company policy that violated the Federal wage law. If so, a notice will go out to employees that they can join the law suit. For so-called “class actions” under the New York State Labor Law, the court will want to know how many workers are subject to the common policy, are there common questions of law and fact, are the claims and defenses similar, and whether the person or group that asserts the claims and their counsel can adequately pursue the claims on behalf of other employees. In union there is strength.
Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 if you think that your employer's harmful actions stem from treating a group of similar employees unfairly and a class action or collective action would be helpful or appropriate. We will use our more than 25 years of experience to help you resolve the matter by negotiation or by going to court in the State of New York or New York City.