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Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions About Class Action Lawsuits

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Why You Need to Contact an Attorney for a Class Action Lawsuit

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

What is a class action lawsuit? Class action employment lawsuits are legal actions brought by a group of employees who have been similarly affected by an employer’s illegal or unfair practices. In these cases, a lead plaintiff or group of plaintiffs sues on behalf of themselves and others who have suffered similar harm. 

These are critical in the enforcement of national civil rights laws, because they are often the only way that individual employees can challenge discrimination from employers. One lawsuit can vindicate the rights of a larger group of people where no individuals would otherwise have enough of an economic incentive to bring suit against the employer in a stand-alone case. This ensures that things like wage & hour, anti-discrimination and civil rights laws are adequately enforced.

Because class lawsuits have been so successful in protecting the rights of employees and consumers, many businesses and employers have been fighting to restrict the ways in which they can be brought, resulting in the “Class Action Fairness Act of 2005.” This law moved many of these cases from state courts to federal court, where it has historically been more difficult for workers to prevail.

What are Some Common Types of Class Employment Lawsuits?

Some common types of class employment lawsuits include:

  1. Wage and hour disputes: These types of lawsuits usually involve claims that an employer has violated federal or state wage and hour laws by failing to pay employees the proper minimum wage, failing to provide overtime pay, or not paying employees for all hours worked.

  2. Discrimination: Lawsuits based on discrimination usually involve claims that an employer has discriminated against a group of employees on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, or disability.

  3. Misclassification of employees: These types of lawsuits often involve claims that an employer has improperly classified workers as independent contractors instead of employees, in order to avoid providing benefits such as overtime pay, workers’ compensation, or unemployment insurance.

  4. Employee benefits: These lawsuits may involve claims that an employer has violated federal or state laws regarding retirement plans, health insurance, or other benefits.

  5. Workplace safety: These types of lawsuits usually involve claims that an employer has violated federal or state safety regulations and created a dangerous workplace that has caused injury or harm to a group of employees.

How to Start a Class Action Lawsuit?

The best place to start is by finding lawyers to discuss your case with. Class representatives not only represent themselves, but they must also adequately and properly represent the interests of all other members of the class in both the money to be paid out and the changes that are to be made by the employer in the way it does business (this is called “injunctive relief”).

Class representatives are required to help with the discovery conducted in the case, including answering written questions asked by the defendant (called interrogatories). The class representative is also responsible for providing answers to questions under oath before a court reporter (called a deposition). Additionally, although many law firms now advance the actual litigation costs, a class representative must be prepared to pay his or her percentage of the costs of the litigation if called on to do so.

As a result, even if the case is being handled on a contingency basis, the class representative may be required to pay some amount of money to be held in trust toward the costs of the case. This money will be refunded to the Class Representative if they win or settle the case. Class representatives may also be required to travel at their expense to the place where the lawsuit was filed, the corporate headquarters, or some other mutually convenient location to have their deposition taken, and if the lawsuit is lost, could be held liable for their percentage of the costs of litigation.

How The Hanrahan Firm Can Help You

The Hanrahan Firm has the knowledge and experience of an employment litigation law office as well as the depth and resources needed for class cases of every size and description whether in San Diego or throughout California.

When it comes to employment class cases, The Hanrahan Firm handles matters in a wide variety of industries, involving numerous state and federal statutes and myriad issues. Contact Attorney Corey Hanrahan for all employment law matters, including wage-and-hour litigation; sex, race, age, and disability discrimination; as well as claims of whistleblower retaliation. Let us help with all of your California claims involving overtime, wage statements, meal and rest periods, waiting time penalties, and other employment law issues.

Class Action Lawsuits

Attorney Corey Hanrahan has helped many employees all across Southern California enforce their rights at work. Contact The Hanrahan Firm to find out how we can help you with your class lawsuit.

Class Action

Class Action FAQs

What is a class action lawsuit for employment violations?

It is a lawsuit brought by a single person or small group of people (called plaintiffs/class representatives) on behalf of a larger group of people. In an employment class case, the plaintiffs attempt to prove that the actions or negligence of an employer who is unlawfully treating a smaller group of employees is typical of the unlawful treatment faced by the larger group of employees. The claims could be based on age discrimination, race discrimination, unpaid wages and more. 


Class cases are critical in the enforcement of employee rights, because they are often the only way that individual employees can challenge company-wide illegal treatment from employers. One lawsuit can vindicate the rights of a larger group of people where no individuals would otherwise have enough of an economic incentive to bring suit against the employer in a single plaintiff case. Class cases work to ensure that things like wage and hour, anti-discrimination and civil rights laws are adequately enforced. 

What types of class lawsuits may be filed?

These are usually filed to seek monetary damages. Occasionally, they are filed to seek a declaratory judgment, which is where the plaintiff asks the court to determine the rights of the parties. It is also possible to seek injunctive relief, in which case the plaintiff seeks an order from the court to prohibit the employer from continuing to engage in unlawful conduct.

I got a notice of class settlement. Can I be bound by the settlement or judgment?

Yes. If the court approves the settlement in the underlying action, all absent class members are bound to the judgment or settlement of the case. However, if the action is primarily for compensatory damages, absent class members are entitled to notice and an opportunity to “opt-out” (exclude themselves) from the case. If a person opts-out, he or she is not bound by any judgment or settlement of the case.

How do I join a class action lawsuit?

Technically, class members do not “join” the lawsuit but decide to participate by not “opting-out.” In a lawsuit for monetary damages, any class member who does not “opt-out” is considered to have joined in the class and will likely be bound by the results of the litigation if it proceeds as a class case. If a class member should determine, however, that he wants to participate in the suit as a named party, he may hire his own lawyer and seek to intervene participate in the lawsuit.

Since these can be complex and time-consuming, they require experienced legal representation. There are many aspects and requirements that are unique to this type of case, and therefore not only require legal representation, but generally require an attorney with experience litigating class lawsuits. So hiring class-action lawyers with experience in handling class lawsuits is recommended. 

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