Employment Law Blog

Filter:  U.S.C. § 216(b)

The Fair Labor Standards Act and Class Action Suits in California

There are many public policy considerations that favor the use of class actions in the employment context in California.  First, individual awards in employment cases tend to be modest so the availability of a class action claim plays an important function by permitting employees a relatively inexpensive way to resolve their disputes. Additionally, class actions allow many employees, who may not otherwise file an individual suit due to fear of retaliation, to safely have their day in court as a member of the class. Class actions also serve to inform and protect employees who, for one reason or another, may not otherwise become aware that their rights are even being violated.

Meal and rest break claims are specifically suited to class treatment. See Brinker Rest. Corp., 53 Cal.4th at 1033 (certifying a California class with meal and rest break claims).


Collective Action Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a remedial statute that protects the rights of workers and should not be applied narrowly. Tennessee Coal Iron & R. Co., v. Muscoda Local No. 123, 321 U.S. 590, 597-98 (1944). The FLSA’s purpose is to “eliminate” unfair labor practices because their existence “burdens commerce,” “constitutes an unfair method of competition,” and “leads to labor disputes.” 29 U.S.C. § 202(a)(b). It prohibits “customs and contracts which allow an employer to claim all of an employee’s time while compensating him for only a part of it” and provides employees a private right of action to recover their unpaid wages. Tennessee Coal Iron & R. Co.,321 U.S. at 602.