New York Employment Attorneys Blog

Owen H. Laird, Esq.

On Monday, June 29, 2015, the Department of Labor and President Obama announced a proposed rule change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) that would increase the number of Americans eligible for overtime pay.

The FLSA requires that employers pay certain employees overtime. Specifically, employers must pay employees overtime for all hours worked above forty each week, at a rate of one and a half times their normal rate. Not all employees are covered by the FLSA; for example, employers do not need to pay overtime to administrative, executive, or professional employees; employees who are not entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA are “exempt.” However, the FLSA also creates an exception to these exemptions: if the exempt employee earns less than a certain salary threshold – currently set at approximately $23,660 per year—then the employee is not exempt, and is entitled to overtime pay.

The proposed rule change moves that salary threshold up to $50,440 per year. If put into effect, this would mean that all employees who make between $23,600 and $50,440 per year would be entitled to additional pay for all overtime work done. For example, an assistant manager at a retail store—typically an exempt position—earning $40,000 a year but working fifty hours a week with no overtime pay would be entitled to thousands of dollars of additional overtime pay each year.

The salary threshold was last adjusted decades ago; since then millions of jobs that were once eligible for overtime have become exempt, primarily because of inflation. The proposed rule seeks to change that—$50,440 has roughly the same purchasing power as $23,600 did back in the 1970s.

The overall effect that this proposed rule change will have on the workforce is difficult to predict. Many employers rely on exempt employees to work long hours, so requiring those employers to pay their employees overtime could result in several different scenarios: the employer may decide to cap an employee’s workweek at forty hours and hire additional workers, providing more free time to existing workers and creating additional jobs; the employer may decide to simply pay their employees more, resulting in significantly more take-home pay for their existing workers; the employer may decide to scale back, and cap an employees working hours without hiring extra help; or the employer could decide to give their previously exempt employees a raise to more than $50,400 per year, so that they are again overtime exempt. Each of these options would benefit the worker.

Although the announcement of this proposed rule change is a major victory for workers, there still is a long way to go before it is put in effect. After the Department of Labor files a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, there will then be a comment period, during which the public can submit comments to the Department of Labor on the proposed rule. Undoubtedly, corporate interests and various chambers of commerce will loudly and vehemently oppose the rule. Then, should the rule go into effect, the Department of Labor will likely face a lawsuit from those same moneyed interests, claiming that the rule is illegal.

If the Department of Labor prevails and the rule goes into effect, then millions of workers will feel its benefits. If you think that you have been denied overtime pay, contact The Harman Firm, PC.

Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.

A job applicant is suing Sears for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), alleging that Sears failed to provide him with a “stand alone” disclosure before obtaining his consumer report and rejected his application without giving him a copy of his consumer report.

The FCRA requires that a user of a consumer report for employment screening purposes provide applicants with copies of their consumer reports, a written summary of their rights, and a reasonable notice period before taking any “adverse employment action.” Sears allegedly rejected job applicants based on information in their consumer report without providing the report to the applicants. The FCRA also requires that an FCRA disclosure form be “clear and conspicuous,” meaning that the disclosure must not be combined with, or attached to, any other document.  Brian D. Hall, an attorney with Porter Wright and Certified Information Privacy Professional, wrote, “[Although the FCRA] does not prevent an employer from combining the disclosure and the authorizations requirements into one form, it does prohibit the disclosure and authorization from being combined with other things, like an employment application.”  Sears’ disclosure allegeldy contained extraneous information, including state law disclosures. The FCRA provides plaintiffs with statutory damages of no less than $100 and no more than $1000 per willful violation, in addition to punitive damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.

On September 19, 2014, Scott Hopfinger of Raytown, Missouri applied for work with Sears. He received a job offer conditioned upon him completing a disclosure form that would allow Sears to obtain his consumer report. Nearly three weeks later, he contacted Sears’ general manager inquiring as to when he was to report to work. The general manager told him that “his application was stuck in the system.” Ten days later, Mr. Hopfinger received a text from the general manager notifying him that Sears’ Human Resources Department had denied his employment. Mr. Hopfinger did not receive his consumer report until two days later. He did not receive a written description of his rights.

On May 8, 2015, Mr. Hopfinger, on behalf of himself and other putative job applicants, filed his lawsuit in the 19th Judicial Circuit Court, Cole County Missouri against Sears Roebuck. On June 10, 2015, Sears removed the case to the Western District of Missouri. The suit seeks class status for two groups: all employees and applicants (1) who executed Sears’ standard form to procure a consumer report; and (2) who suffered adverse employment based on information contained in a consumer report, were not provided with a copy of the report, were not provided with a reasonable time to challenge any inaccuracy in the report, and were not provided with a written description of their rights. Mr. Hopfinger claims that Sears willfully violated the FCRA because, among other reasons, consumer-reporting agencies are required to provide notice to users of consumer reports of the users’ legal obligations under the FCRA before procuring consumer reports and Sears had access to legal advice to develop an FCRA compliance plan.  Sears has not yet responded to Mr. Hopfinger’s complaint. Its answer is due by July 1, 2015.

Sears joins a growing number of similar large-scale FCRA class action lawsuits, including actions against Aerotek, Lowe’s, Swift Transportation, and Whole Foods.

If you believe an employer has unlawfully taken adverse action against you on the basis of a background check, please contact The Harman Firm, PC.

By Owen H. Laird

Earlier this month, the California Labor Commissioner ruled that an Uber driver is not an independent contractor but an employee. Uber—a popular driver sourcing company formally known as Uber Technologies Inc.—classifies its drivers as independent contractors and not employees, allowing Uber to avoid reimbursing its drivers for costs and expenses, compensating its drivers for overtime worked, and paying a variety of payroll and employment taxes.

To determine if a worker is an employer or independent contractor, California law considers several factors, including the control the employer has over its workers, the degree to which the work is part of the employer’s regular business, and the kind and degree of specialization the occupation requires. The Commissioner’s analysis of the relationship between Uber and its drivers found that Uber controlled the operation as a whole, vetted drivers, and maintained the necessary technology to conduct the business. The Commission also found that the drivers were an integral part of the Uber’s business and their work did not require specialized skills. Those facts supported the conclusion that the drivers were employees, not independent contractors.

The driver that filed the complaint with the Commissioner, Barbara Ann Berwick, claimed that she was misclassified as an independent contractor and so sought reimbursements for uncompensated expenses, such as tolls, and her lost minimum wage and overtime payment. The Commissioner determined that Uber indeed owed her such reimbursements, but her wage claims failed because she had no evidence of her hours worked; however, if Uber’s drivers are considered employees, then they are still entitled to the minimum wage and overtime.

Even though this decision is limited to California and only the first step in a lengthy legal process—Uber has already appealed this decision to the Superior Court of California—the question of whether the drivers are independent contractors or employees is central to Uber’s business model. Because Uber has hundreds of thousands of drivers in most states and overseas and faces thousands of dollars of additional expenses for each driver using its service, the additional expenses mandated by this decision could cripple the young company, especially if more jurisdictions adopt its conclusion. Although California’s labor laws are generally more worker-friendly than many other states’, Uber must address the real threat of similar complaints in other jurisdictions resulting in its drivers’ reclassification as employees.

The worker-classification issue is not just limited to Uber; not only are similar companies, such as Lyft, dealing with the same issues, but many start-up companies that aim to connect workers with customers by providing services through new-economy sourcing services must determine how to classify the individuals who work through its service.

If you believe that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, contact The Harman Firm, PC.

Yarelyn Mena

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has brought gender identity as it pertains to restrooms at the workplace at the center of employment law discourse. Under OSHA’s Sanitation Standard, employers are required to provide their employees with toilet facilities. Restrooms are a factor of the workplace that has gone unnoticed by most workers as a simple, must-have feature. The dichotomy of male and female restrooms that has been the default, has been revised by OSHA to protect the rights of employees who identify with a gender identity that does not socially conform with their sex.

Transgendered people fall under this characteristic as people whose “internal gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.” Researchers at the Williams Institute at the University of California- Los Angeles estimated that there are about 700,000 transgender adults in the United States. Knowing which bathroom to use poses a difficult question for transgender employees who are afraid of harassment from other employees who see them enter a different restroom from their gender identity. This situation is maximized when a transgender employee is in the process of transitioning from living as the gender they were born with, to the gender they identify with, while employed. Often times transitioning employees are ridiculed by others in the workplace who do not understand the process. Making this process and daily life for transgender employees an easy, fair process can begin with restrooms.

All employers are required to implement safe, fair and convenient practices for their transgender employees. Taking the steps to adjust restrooms is helpful not only to the transgender employees, but also for other employees who should be cognizant of gender identity. Employers must educate their employees to make the workplace as inclusive as possible and ensure a positive working environment. OSHA listed the best non-mandatory practices surrounding restroom use that some employers have been known to implement, including: single gender-neutral facilities and gender-neutral facilities with lockable single occupant stalls. These policies are deemed to be the best because they do not require employees to disclose documentation about their gender identity or transgender status to their employer.

There are many other departments and laws that work in conjunction with OSHA’s aim to protect employees and their gender identity. The primary agencies are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the DOL. Each agency has adopted provisions against gender and sexual orientation discrimination using several court rulings and prohibitions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as the foundation. To guarantee safe participation in our workforce, employers and employees must support inclusive practices in the workplace for all workers.

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you because of your sexual orientation or gender, please contact The Harman Firm, PC.

Ciera Ambrose and Owen H. Laird, Esq.

Today’s job market is tough on everyone, but it’s especially hard for a person with a criminal conviction to get hired. When applying for a job, applicants are often asked about their work history, education, and criminal record. However, when answering the question, “have you ever been convicted of a crime?” applicants who respond truthfully about their past convictions are less likely to get hired, let alone get a call back.

This hiring trend has sparked a movement called “Ban the Box,” initiated to reduce the employment barriers facing ex-offenders, and to challenge the stereotypes of those with conviction histories by supporting hiring practices based on merit, such as job skills and qualifications, not past convictions.

Recently, the New York City Council amended the Administrative Code of the City of New York, prohibiting employment discrimination based on one’s arrest record or criminal conviction. The bill is entitled the “The Fair Chance Act,” and applies to all businesses in New York City with at least four employees. Under the Fair Chance Act, a job offer can be rescinded after a criminal background check, but not before the employer gives an explanation and engages in an interactive discussion, considering the employer’s requirements and the applicant’s evidence of good conduct. Should Mayor Bill de Blasio sign the bill into law, New York City would become a member of the sixty plus cities and counties in the U.S. that have enacted fair chance policies for the employment of people with past convictions.

In addition, this Act will prohibit an employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history that could potentially violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For example, in Roberto J. Arroyo et al. v. Accenture LLP et al., Accentual LLP – one of the largest management-consulting firms in the world, was accused of rejecting or firing qualified individuals who had criminal records even when their criminal history had no direct influence on the individual’s ability to perform the job, at issue, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

According to the complaint, filed in the Southern District Court of New York, when Ms. Arroyo challenged his termination based on his criminal records, a human resources representative at Accenture told him that it was company policy to fire employees and rescind offers to job applicants if and when their background checks revealed criminal convictions.

Should Mayor de Blasio sign the bill, as he is expected to do, occurrences such as this should be less frequent in New York City because employees will have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and explain their past convictions, rather than simply checking a box that all too often eliminated their chance of being hired at the outset.

If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination by a prospective employer based on your criminal history, please contact The Harman Firm, PC.

 

Yarelyn Mena and Owen H. Laird, Esq.

Many employees might be surprised to learn that a determination by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) can affect their right to benefits from a private pension plan. The Second Circuit has allowed pension plan administrators, depending on the language of the plan, to do just that.

In July 2005 Francy Ocampo applied for disability benefits under the Social Security Act after herniated disks prevented her from working. Ms. Ocampo worked as an office cleaner for more than 20 years, and was a member of the Services Employees International Union (“SEIU”), Local 32BJ. In December 2006, an SSA administrative law judge determined that Ms. Ocampo was disabled by the definition in the Social Security Act, defined as “an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months,” and thus was eligible to receive disability benefits. In March 2007, the SSA notified Ms. Ocampo that she would receive disability benefits for five months.

The SSA periodically assesses claimants to determine whether they are still eligible to receive disability benefits; in other words, the SSA ensures that disabled claimants are still unable to work due to the disability. The time intervals between each assessment conducted by the SSA are dependent on the severity of the claimants’ disability. If the disability is considered likely to improve a claimant is assessed from 6 to 18 months, if the disability is not considered permanent, a claimant is reassessed every three years, and if the disability is considered permanent it is assessed every 5 years.

Despite recovering SSA disability benefits, Ms. Ocampo was assigned a triennial disability evaluation. Ms. Ocampo was nevertheless denied a disability pension by the Board of Trustees for the SEIU 32-BJ Pension Plan. The Board of Trustees weighs two factors when determining whether applicants are eligible to receive a disability pension: if the participant is awarded disability benefits from the SSA for a disability that started when they were covered by the pension plan during employment, and if the Trustees “determine, in their sole and absolute discretion” that the participant is permanently disabled. The Board of Trustees determined Ms. Ocampo was ineligible for disability benefits under the pension plan because a triennial assessment by the SSA indicates that her disability is not permanent.

Ms. Ocampo sued The Board of Trustees for denying her application alleging that its rationale, dependent on the fact that she was assigned an SSA assessment every 3 years as opposed to 5, was “arbitrary and capricious.” The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the defendants’ summary judgment. On appeal, the Second Circuit found Ms. Ocampo’s arguments unwarranted. The court ruled that the terms of the pension plan give express authority to the Trustees to administer and apply pension policies. Moreover, those policies allow for the Trustees to adhere to SSA’s determinations about the severity of applicants’ disabilities. The SSA’s periodic assessments emphasize information pertaining to the severity of a disability, the same information that the Trustees are tasked with considering for applicants like Ms. Ocampo. As a result, the court found that SEIU 32-BJ’s decision to deny Ms. Ocampo’s disability pension based on the SSA’s assessment of her disability was not arbitrary and capricious.

If you believe your employer illegally discriminated of your disability, please contact The Harman Firm, PC.

Ciera Ambrose and Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.

On June 1, 2015, in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc. (Abercrombie), holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) only required a plaintiff to show that an adverse employment decision was motivated by unlawful discrimination, and not that the employer had actual knowledge of plaintiff’s status as a member of a protected class.

Samantha Elauf, a Muslim teenager, applied for a sales-associate position at Abercrombie. She alleged that Abercrombie refused to hire her because she wears a religious headscarf. As a result, the EEOC brought religious discrimination charges under Title VII, which prohibits a prospective employer from refusing to hire an applicant to avoid accommodating a religious practice that it could accommodate without undue hardship. The EEOC prevailed in the District Court of the Northern District of Oklahoma, but the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a plaintiff must show that a defendant had actual knowledge of plaintiff’s need for religious accommodation to prevail on his or her claim. On appeal, Abercrombie argued that an “employer cannot be liable under Title VII for failing to accommodate a religious practice unless the applicant (or employee) provides the employer with actual knowledge of [her] need for an accommodation”; therefore, Abercrombie could not be liable because it claimed not to have known that Ms. Elauf wore her headscarf for religious reasons. SCOTUS granted certiorari.

Title VII prohibits discrimination “motivated” by religious beliefs. The question presented to SCOTUS was whether the prohibition against denying employment due to an employee’s need for a religious accommodation only applies where an employer has “actual knowledge” of an employee’s need for a religious accommodation. The conflict SCOTUS resolved was whether a decision can be “motivated” by a need for accommodation without “actual knowledge” on that need. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for an 8 to 1 majority, stated:

Motive and knowledge are separate concepts. An employer who has actual knowledge of the need for an accommodation does not violate Title VII by refusing to hire an applicant if avoiding that accommodation is not his motive. Conversely, an employer who acts with the motive of avoiding accommodation may violate Title VII even if he has no more than a unsubstantiated suspicion that accommodation would be needed.

SCOTUS held that Elauf only needed to show that her need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in Abercrombie’s decision not to hire her, not that the employer had actual knowledge of her need. SCOTUS reversed the Tenth Circuit’s decision and remanded the case to the trial court.

An employer’s decision to refuse to hire an individual because of his or her religious observance and practice violates Title VII. If you have experienced religious discrimination from your employer, please contact The Harman Firm, PC.

 

Yarelyn Mena and Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.

Technology has changed how we communicate with one another: writing emails has replaced writing letters, and sending text messages, in large part, has replaced making calls. However, employees must be aware that their employers’ communication policies may not reflect these sociological changes, and failing to follow the letter of such policies can lead to warnings, termination, or, in some cases, complicate an employee’s sustainable discrimination claim. Delbert Hudson, a former employee of Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. (Tyson), learned this lesson the hard way.

Tyson’s attendance policy requires employees to “call their direct supervisor personally to report an unplanned absence or to report that they will be late.” On December 28, 2011, Hudson sent his supervisor, Hamdija Beganovic, a text message before the start of his shift, stating that he would not be at work that day and the following several days because he needed to see his doctor. Hudson was absent from work from December 28 until December 31, and received a doctor’s note on January 2 excusing him for the missed days in December and informing his employer that he would be absent from January 1 until January 7. On January 3, Hudson submitted the doctor’s note to Tyson’s Health Services Department and filled out a Leave of Absence Application pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

When Hudson returned to work a few days later, he was told not to “perform his job tasks” until Tyson’s Human Resources Manager, Teri Wray, investigated his absences. Wray’s investigation concluded that on the initial day he was absent, when Hudson had texted his supervisor that he would be out that day, he had satisfied Tyson’s notification requirement; however, he only had done so because Hudson’s girlfriend, also a Tyson employee, personally notified his supervisor of his absence. As such, Hudson failed to satisfy Tyson’s notification requirement on December 29, 30 and 31 because he “had specific instructions to call-in prior to [sic] shift to his immediate supervisor if he was going to be late or miss work.” Tyson decided that Hudson’s initial text message did not count for the ensuing days. Although Hudson claimed that in the past Beganovic had accepted text notifications from him when he expected to be absent, Tyson approved Wray’s recommendation to terminate Mr. Hudson’s employment for failing to properly notify Tyson that he would be absent. Mr. Hudson sued Tyson, claiming that it discriminated against him for taking FMLA leave.

After the District Court for the Northern District of Iowa granted summary judgment in Tyson’s favor, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court to determine, among things, whether Hudson adequately notified Tyson and actually was terminated based on his use of FMLA leave.

An employee must be well informed of its employer’s policies to avoid misunderstandings and potential termination. Often, middle managers tolerate certain policies that higher-level management does not and, ultimately, the risk of miscommunication lies on the employee. For example, the burden was on Mr. Hudson to prove that an alternative method of communication was acceptable, if not specifically provided for, in Tyson’s company policy. Undoubtedly, employees are better off and have a better chance of preserving their rights against discrimination or otherwise, if they have diligently followed company policy concerning the terms and conditions of their employment.

If you believe your employer violated your FMLA rights, please contact The Harman Firm, PC.

Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.

Shaela Evenson, a former schoolteacher at Butte Central Catholic School, a Montana Catholic School, alleged that Butte Central terminated her employment upon learning that she was pregnant while not married. On May 11, 2015, Butte Central filed its answer to Ms. Evenson’s complaint, in which it asserted that as a ministerial employee, Ms. Evenson’s employment was exempt from Title VII. Title VII, among other protections, prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for becoming pregnant.

Ms. Evenson and her partner, Marilyn Tobin, are not married. Upon being hired, Ms. Evenson signed an employment agreement that stated that she agreed to abide by all Butte Central’s rules and regulations, including “all of the moral and religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Church” and that she would not “engage in any personal conduct or lifestyle which would be at variance with or contrary to the polices of the School and the Diocese or the moral and religious teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.”   Presumably, this includes becoming pregnant out of wedlock.

Although a ministerial exception has long been recognized by the Courts of Appeals, not until 2011 did the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) have the opportunity to decide the issue. In Hosanna-Tabor Church v. EEOC, the Court agreed with Courts of Appeals: “The members of a religious group put their faith in the hands of their ministers. Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punish church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more that a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs.”   In Hosanna-Tabor, Cheryl Perich, a teacher at an Evangelical Lutheran church and school, was terminated after asserting rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court noted three primary considerations: (i) that Petrich received a “diploma of vocation” according her the title of “Minister of Religion, Commissioned”; (ii) that she claimed a special housing allowance on her taxes that was available only to employees earning their compensation “ ‘in the exercise of the ministry’ ”; (iii) and her duties included teaching her students religion, leading them in prayer, taking her students to a school-wide chapel service, and leading the chapel service herself twice a year. Although “reluctant to adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualified as minister,” the Court decided that the exception covered Perich. Perich performed “an important role in transmitting the Lutheran faith to the next generation.”

Butte Central cannot likely escape liability under Title VII unless Butte Central can show that Ms. Evenson was similar to Perich and, therefore, a minister.  For nine years, Ms. Evenson taught literature and physical education to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students at Butte Central. She led class prayer, participated in faith activities, attended mass, and took continuing education on the application of Roman Catholic Church doctrine and teaching in the classroom setting; however, she was not Catholic, of which Butte Central was aware, was not assigned to teach religion courses, held no ordination in the Catholic Church, and received no certification in connection with teaching at Catholic schools. Therefore, Ms. Evenson likely did not consitute a “minister.” However, because the approach adopted by SCOTUS requires a fact-intensive inquiry and discovery has not yet completed, this prediction is premature.

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you please contact The Harman Firm, PC.

Yarelyn Mena and Owen H. Laird, Esq.

At a hearing on April 29, 2015, the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice discussed class action suits. The hearing covered the controversial legislation, “The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015” (H.R. 1927). Republican committee members, Bob Goodlatte and Trent Franks proposed the legislation, which would prevent class actions from being certified without proof that each proposed class member suffered property or bodily injury of the same type and extent as the named class representative(s).

Opposition to H.R. 1927 flooded in shortly after the hearing. Paul Bland, Executive Director of Public Justice said that the legislation would make it “essentially impossible for Americans to join together in bringing class action lawsuits for nearly any illegal act a corporation might undertake.” Bland continued: “Think Brown v. Board of Education [the seminal case desegregating public schools] was a good idea? Congressman Goodlatte’s bill would make bringing that case impossible. By eliminating any class action that does not involve quantifiable ‘property’ loss or personal injury, the legislation would eliminate any case that didn’t involve money or blood.” Many fundamental class action lawsuits, such as Brown, that have affected the course of our legal history, would not have been possible under the proposed legislation. Class action lawsuits in federal court are often classified as ‘no-injury’ or ‘overbroad’ in situations where a plaintiff experienced an issue with a product or service, and others who also have purchased the product or service join the action. Cases with similar circumstances would never make it to litigation if adhering to H.R. 1927’s provisions.

Corporations would be the chief beneficiaries of the enactment of H.R. 1927. This legislation stands to limit the number and scope of potential lawsuits against them, on behalf of both employees and consumers, by making it difficult for plaintiffs to join together to file a lawsuit. Individuals, unable to unite, and faced with a lengthy litigation and extensive legal costs which often outstrip the damages asserted, will elect not to assert their rights. This dangerous consequence would allow for illegal actions to go unchecked by the legal system, as individuals are continuously violated of their rights until they pass the hurdles H.R. 1927 creates to develop a class action suit.

The purpose of class actions is to allow for individuals to act as a group to take action against widespread illegal conduct. This is especially true of employment cases where many employees are unaware that they are being wronged until another employee brings a lawsuit based on an illegal action that also pertains to them. Moreover, many employees who are afraid to pursue action individually, are willing to pursue their rights as a member of a group. A class action gives them the potential to receive compensation for any wrongs. Alexandra D. Lahav, professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, articulates: “H.R. 1927 would not improve class action practice or cure the problems that exist in that practice. Instead, under this bill companies would have an unfettered ability to lie about their products and services, discriminate against employees, defraud customers and business partners, and commit a host of other violations in the law, subject only to sporadic government enforcement.”

If you believe your employer violated your employment rights, please contact The Harman Firm, PC.