According to the American Bar, employers must comply with federal and state wage and hour law, period. What is more, they should know that they will not be able to avoid being held liable by pretending not to know-and they could incur more liability for “willful” violations if they do. So, if an employer violates wage and hour law through its work place rules, it can generally be proven by facts, regardless of any change to company policy. Employees and former employees may seek wage and hour relief through various vehicles which provide group relief. The most common is through a class action relief or equivalent class relief under local jurisdiction laws and rules.
Another type of relief, collective action relief, may be sought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Generally speaking, the courts follow two phases when they consider collective actions under the FLSA. In the first phase they examine the pleadings and submission of the proposed collective action and decide whether the proposed class members are similarly situated. If that is the case, then they may conditionally certify the class. Then, putative class member are given notice and the opportunity to “opt in.” Through the discovery process the action proceeds as a representative action. The second phase of an FLSA collective action inquiry takes place after discovery is mostly complete, and this next phase is usually based on a motion for “decertification” by the defendant. At that time an extensive analysis is conducted to determine whether the employees are sufficiently similarly situated to continue to proceed as a class. If the claimants are not similarly situated, then the class is decertified. Then the opt-in plaintiffs are dismissed without prejudice, and the class representatives proceed to trial on their individual claims.
Lastly, governmental agencies, such as The Department of Labor (DOL) or similar state agencies, have statutory authority to pursue damages and/or injunctive relief directly against an employer. The DOL can also pursue group remedies. For more information about class action law, or if you would like a free consultation regarding a potential class action case, please contact our firm. We have over 10 years experience fighting for injured parties in personal injury cases, and we can help you evaluate whether you have a claim as individual or as part of a class. Contact us for a free consultation today.