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Phase One of a Wage and Hour Class Action: Establishing Class Certification

A class action for wage and hour violations can be brought where a sufficient number of current and/or former employees were injured by the same unlawful wage and hour practices of the employer.

Generally, the common wage and hour violations include:

  • Paying less than California’s required minimum wage;
  • Failing to pay overtime;
  • Requiring work while off the clock;
  • Failing to require employees to take full, uninterrupted meal/rest breaks.

Before getting into to the normal litigation procedures, however, the injured party seeking recovery must be granted class certification. To establish class certification, the party must establish “(1) the existence of an ascertainable and sufficiently numerous class, (2) a well-defined community of interest, and (3) substantial benefits from certification that render proceeding as a class superior to the alternatives.” Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Ct., 53 Cal. 4th 1004, 1021 (2012).

Ascertainable and Sufficiently Numerous Class

An ascertainable class is one that includes class definitions that are sufficient to allow a member of the class to identify himself or herself as having a right to recover based on the class description. Noel v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 7 Cal. 5th 955, 980 (2019). The purpose of an ascertainable class is to satisfy the ancient legal theory of Due Process. Identifying those members of the class allows them to be put on notice that their rights are being adjudicated. They must then either intervene, join, or opt-out, knowing they cannot bring these same causes of action again later. Ascertaining the class members determines who will or will not be bound by the judgment, preventing later lawsuits from being filed against the Defendant for the same violations.

Community of Interest

The lawsuit must contain predominant questions of law or fact. Translation: The employer must have committed generally the same violations to each class member. When this is the case, a class action saves time and resources for all parties involved, including the defendant and the court. The class representatives (i.e. the plaintiffs’ named on the lawsuit) must have claims that are typical of the class and must adequately represent the class.

Benefits vs. Burdens

The proposed class action must be shown to be “manageable.” To be manageable, the benefits of the class action must outweigh the burdens. For instance, if the class action is across several states, the variation in law might create a substantial burden. However, presuming the other factors are met, if the common questions are similar across state boundaries, it is likely efficient to certify the class.

Judicial Efficiency

Establishing all elements exemplifies the purpose of class certification: to ensure and maintain an efficient judicial system.

Has your employer committed wage and hour violations?

If you believe your employer in California has committed wage and hour violations, get in touch with Makarem and Associates via email at [email protected] or phone at 310.312.0299 to protect your rights. Makarem and Associates is an established and experienced law firm with a track record of successful wage and hour class actions. Call us now!