If you and your coworkers find your lunchroom conversation or after-work get-togethers monopolized by the same complaints about your employer, you are not alone. Even in the best of work situations, you will have colleagues who can find something to gripe about. Some bosses are just hard to get along with, and others may not demonstrate much respect. However, if your employer’s actions or policies violate your rights under any of the various employee protection laws, you may have good reason to complain.
When an employer violates your rights, chances are good that he or she is treating other workers the same way. You may even find that, in other branches, offices or stores in your chain, those employees have the same complaints against your employer. You may feel it is a lost cause for you to fight for better conditions alone, but what would happen if you joined your efforts with other employees who are suffering the same mistreatment?
Seeking class action status
Are you working through your unpaid lunch break? Does your employer have you classified as a contractor to avoid providing benefits? Does your employer routinely apply discriminatory practicing in hiring, firing or promoting? These are just a few serious employment violations that may be costing you and your coworkers thousands of dollars each year. By joining in a class action lawsuit with others who are under the same employer, you may improve the chances of successfully setting things right. Some key facts about class action cases include the following:
- One plaintiff represents all plaintiffs who have suffered similar unfair treatment.
- The lead plaintiff must show that the complaint is valid and that all the members of the class have experienced similar mistreatment.
- A judge must certify the lawsuit as a class action before you can proceed to court.
- Anyone who has suffered these violations at your place of employment is automatically part of the class action unless they opt out.
In many cases, the employer is willing to negotiate a settlement instead of allowing the matter to go to court. This could be in your favor if you have a legal representative who is a skilled negotiator. The results of a class action often mean a smaller payout than one might get with an individual case. However, a class action lawsuit speaks volumes to an employer and often greatly improves the chances that you will be heard and achieve your goals of a fairer, more respectful workplace.