Any time an employment law violation affects many employees, there may be grounds for a class action lawsuit or another type of representative action. A class action or representative action may arise for multiple reasons, including wage and hour violations, illegal working conditions, and workplace harassment or discrimination.
In California, perhaps the most common types of employment law violations are wage and hour violations. Unfortunately, in many cases, employees are not aware that multiple employees are being cheated out of wages, and some employers have developed sophisticated methods of committing wage theft that can go unnoticed for years.
Examples of wage and hour violations include failure to pay proper overtime wages, failure to provide proper meal and rest breaks, failure to meet California’s minimum wage requirements, and the misclassification of workers as salaried, managerial or independent contractors.
Some employers actually require employees to sign arbitration agreements that prohibit the employees from bringing class action lawsuits. However, in California, employers are not allowed to prohibit all forms of representative action, and an arbitration agreement may not be enforceable under California law. In fact, California has a law called the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) that may allow multiple employees to bring a representative action even if the employees signed an arbitration agreement.
The bottom line is that, if you believe your rights as an employee have been violated, you may not be the only employee being wronged by the employer. For more on these matters, please see our overview of employment class actions and collective actions in California.