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What We Do
Class Actions

Class actions have become a favored method of raising employment-related claims against employers in California, especially wage and hour claims for missed meal and rest periods, off-the-clock work, and alleged misclassification. Many plaintiffs' attorneys perceive these actions as "gold mines" and search for any available claim in virtually every employment dispute or troll for potential class representatives through proliferating Internet websites. We recognize that when they are actually filed, class actions can be costly and a significant risk to business interests. The damage allegations are almost always alarming when the lawsuit is first reviewed. Although any individual claim might be relatively small, applying the claim to every employee over a period of up to four years results in total claims that are generally far larger than any single plaintiff lawsuit.

Because such cases can appear daunting, we believe that thoughtful early evaluation of the operative facts is particularly critical. We stress partnering with clients at this early stage because getting a sense of the case can best allow our team to formulate the most effective strategy with our client that works toward a resolution that recognizes business imperatives and operational needs. This may mean immediately implementing trial preparation strategies and working toward summary judgment or defeating class certification, or it may mean early and aggressive settlement negotiations when potential liability is recognized.

We can develop the most effective strategy in each case because Hirschfeld Kraemer attorneys have successfully managed class and collective action employment litigation in all stages. This has included obtaining denial of class certification, bringing successful summary judgment motions, disqualifying class representatives, resisting overly-broad discovery demands, managing comprehensive electronic data bases, representing the employer in multi-plaintiff trials after class certification was defeated, and routinely negotiating favorable settlements, even in the most complex cases. We bring a special expertise to these cases since many of our most experienced class action defense lawyers also regularly counsel clients in exactly the same areas. We have dealt with most of the major plaintiff-side class action lawyers. They know and respect us, which works to each of our client's advantage. With this background, we thoughtfully put together our defense team for each case that allows for the leanest and most cost-effective staffing while maintaining both an experience and knowledge base not easily matched in any other firm.

The following is a brief summary of some recent successes:

  • Defeated class certification in action for off-the-clock work, minimum wage, and travel time, filed on behalf of 1,500 current and former California employees, where similar classes in cases brought in other states had been certified.
  • In a class action for unpaid overtime, filed under California Labor Code and Business & Professions Code § 17200 on behalf of 90 non-exempt employees, we worked with the client immediately to compute mistakenly-unpaid overtime, issue settlement checks and obtain releases from potential class members. The named plaintiff had no choice but to dismiss the case upon settlement of his individual claims and the case was resolved with minimal attorneys' fees and no waiting time penalty liability.
  • Obtained extremely favorable settlement, which included credit for some amounts previously paid, in class action alleging improper commission calculations, charge backs, and expense reimbursements, in addition to alleged overtime and meal and rest period violations.
  • In an overtime action on behalf of a class of restaurant managers and assistant managers under California Labor Code and California Business & Professions Code § 17200, we obtained a settlement on highly favorable terms for a fraction of the class plaintiff's claimed individual damages after convincing the plaintiff that she would be unable to obtain class certification.
  • Obtained court ruling on summary adjudication that the employer could avoid any liability for overtime and meal period premiums on the basis of the outside salesperson exemption.