Articles Posted in Class Actions

In our work as class action lawyers, we stay informed about developments in this area of the law across the country. Recently, we learned that the United States Department of Justice is seeking to support a class action involving Americans with disabilities.

Specifically, the DOJ wants to intervene in a lawsuit brought in the United States District Court in San Francisco. The case is before Judge Edward M. Chen and was filed earlier this year by one of California’s watchdog agencies, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The action alleges that the entity that administers the law school admissions test is not doing what they should under the law to accommodate those exam takers with disabilities.

The Law School Admission Council or LSAC as it is known, is responsible for providing the admissions test to those interested in attending law school. In the litigation, it has been alleged that even when prospective test takers supply the necessary back-up on their history of test-taking, they are denied accommodation. A history of accommodation can be a requirement for test takers to demonstrate a current need, unless the disability is a recent development in the individual’s life. But under the law known as the Americans with Disabilities Act, test administrators, schools and employers, must provide accommodations if it is shown they are warranted under the law.

Among the allegations in this case are that the the LSAC not only denied accommodation to individuals whose history and disability warranted it, but also turned information over to law schools about which individuals taking the test have disabilities. The accommodations are intended to level the playing field, rather than allow admissions officers to view law school applicants differently in the admissions process.
Continue reading

This past June, the California Supreme Court ruled that Oracle employees who resided in Colorado and Arizona, were entitled to overtime pay under California’s wage and hour laws. The plaintiffs, who travel the country training users of Oracle’s software applications, had taken the position that they were not teachers as the company had said.

By classifying these workers as teachers, the company was not required to pay overtime to these workers. Under California law this put them in a classification of “exempt” workers. The plaintiffs sought overtime pay, claiming that they were in fact “non-exempt.”

Oracle’s position was that California law was not applicable to these employees. They said the home states of these employees should control their rights to overtime pay.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just issued a decision that upholds the class certification for the plaintiffs in a 10b-5 securities fraud action. The case involves Amgen, a pharmaceutical company. In order to get certified as a class, the plaintiffs must show that the element of reliance is present and common for class members under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b).

Under United States Supreme Court decisions, this element can be shown by a “fraud-on-the-market” presumption. This means that a buyer is presumed to have relied on the truth of public information that is reflected in the market price of a security. This presumption allows a plaintiff seeking class certification to show reliance where it would be otherwise very difficult, if not impossible, to do.

The Ninth Circuit has joined two other circuit courts of appeal (the Third and Seventh) to hold that a plaintiff must show two things to invoke the fraud-on-the-market presumption. These are first, showing that the security in question was traded in an efficient market; and second, showing that the alleged misrepresentations were public. Neither of these requirements were contested in the case.

Last week, a United States District Court judge approved a major wage and hour settlement in a case involving more than 1,200 trainee inspectors with the Terminix Company in California. The lawyers of the California Injury Attorneys Blog worked as co-counsel to secure the $1.5 million settlement and continue to represent other Terminix employees who were not included in the class. Those workers will be seeking recovery against the company through arbitration proceedings. This case is another example of the importance to workers in pursuing their right to proper wages.

Terminix argued before the court that termite inspections are part of the sales process and therefore should not be subject to overtime pay for workers. The pest control company had sought to characterize their free inspections as a sales pitch or giveaway in an attempt to exempt the extra hours worked by inspectors that were in excess of the 40-hour work-week provided for by California law. But the court rejected this argument and said that their services were not in fact sales activity.

Inspector trainees of the Terminix company sometimes work long hours – even longer than what are normally long hours. Prior to the class action, when the trainees worked longer hours, they did not receive rest or meal breaks or overtime pay. The settlement will result in the class member trainees receiving about $800 each in gross pay. Terminix will pay their share of employment taxes as well. The settlement covers trainee employees who worked as inspectors.

1330873_27868463.jpgA while back we posted on a topic involving the protection of a potential class action suit by a court after the defendant offered to settle the case with an individual named plaintiff. As national class action lawyers, we follow the development of the law in this area very closely.

We recently settled a wage and hour class action litigation involving a major company. This class action involved the company’s failure to properly categorize their employees to avoid providing overtime pay, proper breaks, termination pay and other wages that were due to the employees. Often companies will attempt to avoid wage and hour laws by categorizing those working as employees, as independent contractors instead.

Two recent cases are of interest in this area. In one case, the California First District Court of Appeal tossed out an action brought by a former law clerk that had worked at a private law firm while attending law school. He claimed he was entitled to overtime pay because he was not licensed to practice law at the time that he worked for the firm. He did perform many important tasks, including interviewing witnesses and writing pleadings.