Moeller Barbaree’s experienced class action attorneys have represented clients in discrimination and wage and hour class action lawsuits brought in Atlanta and other areas of the country. Class actions are designed to make it possible for employees to litigate even what may be considered small claims by gathering them into a single case that may be handled more efficiently and/or effectively. In the employment context, class actions are lawsuits brought by one or multiple current or former applicants or employees on behalf of a larger group of applicants or employees referred to as the “class.” For example, class actions may be filed on behalf of a class of employees to pursue claims of sex or race discrimination or harassment against an employer. An employee may also bring a class action lawsuit to challenge an employer’s pay practices under state laws. For example, a class action lawsuit may challenge an employer’s failure to pay for all time worked, properly pay for overtime, or comply with statutory requirements for wage-related notices it must provide to its employees. In addition to employment-related claims, class actions may also be brought to seek relief under federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination against protected categories such as race, color, religion, disability, or national origin by businesses or places that provide public accommodations.
The attorneys at Moeller Barbaree have worked on employment discrimination, wage, and public accommodation class action lawsuits. In our experience, many class action cases start with a concern raised by an individual employee that suggests an unlawful practice that may have applied to many employees. For example, an employee working in Atlanta may have a complaint that she was unlawfully denied a promotion that upon investigation suggests an employer may have subjected her and other employees across the company to a pattern or practice of discrimination based on race, gender, or other protected categories of unlawful discrimination. Another type of employment class action may allege that an employer’s use of a neutral policy or practice has an adverse impact on, or works to the disadvantage of, members of a particular race, gender or other protected group.
One of the first steps in class action litigation is for a court to determine whether the class should be certified. The basic requirements for bringing a class action lawsuit are outlined in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and related state practice rules. Generally, an individual asserting class action claims must show: (1) the class is so numerous that it would be impractical for all of those individuals to bring individual claims before a court, (2) there are questions of law or fact that are common for all class members, (3) the claims of the individual or defenses to those claims are typical of the claims and defenses that would apply to the class, and (4) the individual(s) bringing the lawsuit will be fair and adequate representatives of the class. If a plaintiff can satisfy these four requirements of Rule 23(a), she must then show that the class claims also satisfy one of the three options under Rule 23(b). Employment class actions typically proceed under Rule 23(b)(3) based on a finding that common questions of fact or law predominate over questions that are individualized, and that a class action is superior to other methods in terms of fair and efficient adjudication of the claims and defenses. If a judge certifies one or more claims as a class action, the absent members of the defined class are assumed to be participating in the case unless they affirmatively request removal or “opt out.” Typically, a notice will be mailed to the absent class members to provide them with information about the litigation or a settlement because their rights may be affected by the court’s decision.
One of the most important ways of proving or disproving whether employment class action claims satisfy the commonality and typicality requirements is working with experts to evaluate whether there is statistical evidence that supports a claim of discrimination. Moeller Barbaree’s attorneys have partnered with expert labor economists to analyze employment practices including hiring, promotion, termination, and compensation claims.
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Moeller Barbaree’s Atlanta lawyers have extensive experience in all phases of class action litigation. If you need representation for purposes of potential or pending class action claims, please contact Moeller Barbaree’s Atlanta attorneys for a free consultation at 404-748-9122, or use our convenient email form.
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