Wage and Overtime Class Actions

Employees who are the victims of overtime or other wage law violations, such as a wrongful denial of overtime pay or pay that does not meet minimum wage standards, may feel that they face impossible odds. In civil lawsuits, the imbalance of power may never be greater than in a dispute between an employee and an employer over wage claims. Federal and state laws allow multiple claimants to form a class action or collective action, which gives the claimants strength in numbers. The Chicago wage law lawyers at National Consumer Rights can help employees recover their rightful wages for the work they performed.

Individual Overtime Claims May be Small

The damages available to an individual employee for violations of wage and overtime statutes, while significant to that employee, may make the litigation process seem cost-prohibitive. Some employers, who may have defended against numerous wage claims, have grown adept at delaying claims for unpaid wages. This delay can add expenses for a plaintiff and cost more time than a plaintiff cares to spend.

Strength in Numbers

Class actions and collective actions, by allowing multiple plaintiffs to consolidate their claims, provides a way to assert causes of action for wage and overtime violations alongside others with similar damages. This gives employees considerable leverage over an employer. To qualify for certification as a class, the plaintiffs must all have substantially similar claims against a defendant, based on substantially similar circumstances. Plaintiffs who all worked for the same employer, and who were deprived of overtime pay during the same time period or under similar circumstances may be able to join their cases together.

Collective Actions Versus Class Actions

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs many of the requirements for wages and overtime pay nationwide. Each state may have its own laws regulating minimum wage and setting rules for overtime pay. State laws may also govern how plaintiffs can bring their claims as a class action or collective action.

The FLSA allows employees to bring “collective actions” rather than class actions. The two types of cases are similar to one another, with a few key differences.

  • Class action lawsuits, in order for a court to certify the case as a class action, require the presentation of extensive evidence regarding the similarities among the plaintiffs’ claims, in order to demonstrate that they are “similarly situated.” Once a court has certified a case as a class action, and the class representatives have identified class members, individual class members who do not wish to participate in the lawsuit must notify the class representative in order to “opt out.”
  • Collective actions have fewer requirements for obtaining certification, aside from the requirement that the class representative or representatives be “similarly situated” to the other plaintiffs. Plaintiffs with similar claims are not automatically part of the lawsuit, however. They must take action to “opt in.”

Representing workers throughout the Chicago area, the wage law lawyers at Nationwide Consumer Rights bring decades of experience with wage claims litigation and class actions. We have dedicated our practice to exposing rip-offs and frauds and protecting the rights of consumers around the country. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Chicago wage law attorneys, please contact us online or at 630-333-0000.

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