The number and scope of employment-related class actions has increased dramatically in recent years, especially in the areas of wage and hour, discrimination, and most recently, employee benefits. In the last few years alone, class and collective actions, at both the federal and state levels, as well as other multi-party lawsuits, have cost employers hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments and settlements, and this figure does not include the negative impact such actions may have on a company's public image.
Class Action Defense
EBG attorneys have extensive experience representing companies in a wide range of industries in both federal and state class actions and multi-party litigation, including FLSA collective actions and Rule 23 class actions involving Title VII, the ADEA and other federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
A company's first and often best opportunity to successfully defend a class action is to defeat certification of the proposed class. Through thoughtful and comprehensive pre-certification discovery and investigation, along with the development of creative, case-specific strategies, we have successfully opposed class certification for many clients. We also have succeeded in decertifying classes in Title VII, ADEA, ADA cases and comparable state court actions, as well as in FLSA wage and hour collective actions.
Beyond the proper handling of discovery and other pre-trial litigation, the successful defense of class and collective actions often involves the compilation and analysis of statistical data and the retention of appropriate expert witnesses to interpret and explain the compiled data. EBG attorneys have broad experience in the development, analysis and presentation of expert testimony, including the use of statistical data.
Because of the potentially significant impact of a class action on a company's reputation, we also assist our clients with developing legally- and operationally-sound internal and public communications throughout the litigation process.
Class Action Avoidance
In light of the fact that class and collective actions are often high-stakes litigation, we work closely with our clients in developing an effective prevention plan. Although an employer cannot insulate itself from ever being sued, it can take steps to maximize its chances for a speedy outcome at minimal cost.
EBG attorneys assist clients in identifying areas of vulnerability and developing practical strategies for minimizing the risk of class action liability, including:
- Developing internal auditing practices to uncover vulnerabilities in such areas as wage and hour policies, as well as the types of practices which might support a claim of "pattern and practice" discrimination;
- Advising on legally sound alternatives to current, problematic policies with the goal of meeting, to the greatest extent possible, the company's business needs and objectives, such as proper classification of employees under wage and hour laws and the prevention of overtime issues;
- Assisting in federal and state government audits of wage and hour practices and in government investigations of discrimination claims; and
- Reviewing proposed business transactions and operational changes for potential class action vulnerability, including restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and lay-offs, as well as contemplated actions involving promotions, discipline and changes in compensation policies.