Class and Representative Actions

Class and representative action lawsuits are a powerful tool for challenging unlawful wage and hour and consumer practices. In a class or representative action lawsuit, one or more persons (called “class representative(s)” or “representative plaintiff(s)”) sue on behalf of a larger group of employees or consumers with the same or similar claims. This tool allows people with claims that might not otherwise be large enough for most lawyers to pursue on an individual basis to pool their claims together on a collective basis.

Examples of claims that commonly lend themselves to class or representative lawsuits include, but are not limited to:

  • Wage and Hour Violations
  • False/Misleading Advertising Claims
  • Illegal Fees Charged to Consumers
  • Unauthorized Faxes and Text Messages
  • Call Recording Without Two Party Consent

Here is an example of how class actions work:

  •  Assume a company has illegally charged $1/month to 1 million customers for the past 12 months.
  • Under this hypothetical, no customer would have an individual claim worth more than $12.
  • Collectively, however, the company has cheated its customers out of $12 million over the past year.
  • Without the class action vehicle, few (if any) lawyers would take any customer’s $12 claim.
  • By contrast, with the class action vehicle, plenty of good lawyers would gladly pursue the class’ $12 million claim.

Benefits of class action lawsuits:

  • They allow employees and consumers to challenge widespread illegal conduct that cheats a lot of people out of small sums of money.
  • They enable employees and consumers to get effective legal representation in cases where it would otherwise be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to do so.
  • They discourage bad consumer and employer practices because businesses are less likely to steal small sums of money from lots of people if they face a real risk of having to pay a lot of it back.
  • In the employment context, they allow a former employee to assert claims on behalf of both current and former employees. This allows a former employee to protect his or her former coworkers who still work for the employer from retaliation while pursuing their claims in addition to his or her own.

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