April 22, 2013
By Michael Kun
“Hybrid” wage-hour class actions are by no means a new concept.
In a “hybrid” class action, the named plaintiff files suit seeking to represent classes under both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and state wage-hour laws. As the potential recovery and limitations periods for these claims are often very different, so, too, are the mechanisms used for each.
In FLSA claims, where classes can be “conditionally certified” if a plaintiff satisfies a relatively low burden of establishing that class members are “similarly situated” – a phrase nowhere defined in the statute – only those persons who affirmatively “opt in” to the lawsuit become class members. In state wage-hour claims, governed by Federal Rule 23 (or a state law equivalent), a plaintiff generally must satisfy a higher standard – establishing numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy and superiority – and, if a class is certified, only those persons who affirmatively “opt out” are removed from the class.
February 27, 2013
By Michael D. Thompson
The prohibition against private settlements of FLSA claims was scrutinized again last week, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that parties could voluntarily dismiss an FLSA lawsuit without obtaining approval of the settlement agreement from the court. Picerni v. Bilingual SEIT & Preschool Inc.
Courts in FLSA cases have historically expressed the concern that individual waivers of FLSA rights would enable employers to use their superior bargaining power to extract individual waivers from their employees and “thwart the legislative policy [that the FLSA] was designed to effectuate.” Brooklyn Sav. Bank v. O’Neill.
September 21, 2011
E. Jason Tremblay
On August 4, 2011, we reported on the case of Dionne v. Floormasters Enters, a case from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that effectively allowed an employer to avoid paying attorneys’ fees in an FLSA lawsuit and also allowed the dismissal of an FLSA lawsuit prior to class certification where an offer of judgment made by the employer made the plaintiff-employee “whole.” However, since then, several other circuits, namely the Third and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal, have published contrary decisions holding that an offer of judgment made by an employer to a plaintiff-employee in an FLSA case will not moot the case where the court has not yet ruled on class certification.