FLSA (Fair Labor Standard Act) offer collective action lawsuits against employers that violated the minimum wage and overtime wage standard. Statistics show that more than 80% of employers don’t comply with the minimum wage and overtime pay laws. FLSA collective action lawsuit is almost the same as class-action lawsuits in a way that allows employees to make joint complaints when an employer fails to pay the minimum wage and does not pay overtime. These collective actions help employees who are not able to defend their employment rights.
FLSA has done its best to protect employee’s rights regarding the minimum wage standard, but most employers don’t obey such rules, millions of employees are victims of wage and overtime theft. A lot of employers are stealing wages at an alarming rate, and yet most employees don’t even notice and remain silent without reporting to the proper authorities. Violating the minimum wage and overtime rule is illegal, and as an employee, you have the right to file a lawsuit to get back your hard-earned wages.
According to FLSA, to be part of the joint action, the employees concerned must be in the same category; in other words, they must be similarly situated. “Similarly situated” means employees must be under the same policy, design, or plan, which fails to give or compensate workers the standard minimum and overtime pay.
Class Action Lawsuits
On the other hand, when it comes to class action lawsuits, each employee that wants to participate in a class-action lawsuit must sign a document that shows they want to participate collectively in a class-action lawsuit. One or more employees start class-action lawsuits, and later on, others can join by giving their consent in writing. Still, there are situations where other members are included automatically without the need to provide written consent.
You Cannot File Both a Class Action and a Separate Law Suit
You cannot, however, file a separate lawsuit and, at the same time, be part of a class-action lawsuit. It’s not a requirement for employees to take part in a class-action trial; they can file a separate lawsuit to deal with their employer.
If you are working with an employer that has few employees and you believe, as a single individual, your wage and overtime pay have been denied, you can move on to hire a professional attorney to deal with your case.
Most of the unpaid wages and overtime cases are filed under class actions instead of making individual claims. Class action lawsuits are easier to deal with when there are massive numbers of people involved in any lawsuit. If you want to file a separate lawsuit, you have to make sure that the money your employer owed you is a lot because you don’t want to file a lawsuit that will cost you $5000 in hiring a lawyer while the funds your employer owed you is only $3000.
Advantages of Filing a Class Action Lawsuit
When many people have not been paid their minimum wage or overtime pay rightfully, a class action lawsuit is the best alternative; it has a lot of advantages over filing a separate lawsuit. One of the most important benefits is that there is less cost involved, and you don’t necessarily need to be dealing with court visits. Once a few members are assigned, they can represent you in the court.
If there are a lot of co-workers experiencing the same unpaid wage problem, they can come together as a team to file a class-action lawsuit, and by doing so, you can share all the costs that will arise, such as lawyer fees and court fees.
When an employer is found guilty of stealing employee wages and overtime pay, the consequences are tremendous. One of the most significant penalties an employer will face is paying for “liquidated damages,” that’s any damages that resulted from the loss of that wage, which has not been met. Costs can be liquidated in a contract only if (1) the injury is either “uncertain” or “difficult to quantify”; (2) the amount is reasonable and considers the actual or anticipated harm caused by the contract breach, the difficulty of proving the loss, and the difficulty of finding another, adequate remedy; and (3) the damages are structured to function as damages, not as a penalty. If these criteria are not met, a liquidated damages clause will be void.
Penalties of Not Paying Employee Wages
Liquidated damages can be as much as twice the amount of wages owed to an employee, plus any additional attorney fees. In most cases, an employee can collect up to two years of stolen payments, attorney fees, and in some cases, even more.
If you have a wage dispute between you and an employer, give us a call at Massey & Duffy so that we can provide you all the help you need to recover your hard-earned wages.