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May 18, 2005

"Employers Fight Back"

Management Law Firm Tells the Real Story on "Class Action Fairness" Law

Now that the Bush administration attack on class actions is law, the business class is promoting, as in this document from the management firm Jackson Lewis, the anti-worker benefits for employers of the law:

While the Act is aimed primarily at products liability and mass tort cases, it also may significantly impact employment-related class actions such as discrimination and wage and hour cases...In the past, plaintiffs generally have been more successful with class actions in state court than in federal court because state class action rules tend to be easier to satisfy than the federal rules.
In particular, workers suffering minimum wage and overtime violations are likely to suffer, since class action rules are often dramatically different under state laws versus the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):
In federal court, class members in a collective action under the FLSA must "opt-in" to be included in the case. In state court, class members are automatically included in the action if the case is certified by the court as a class action, unless they affirmatively "opt-out" of the class. The different federal and state procedures greatly affect the size of the class, which has caused most plaintiff attorneys to pursue class actions in state court.

Under the Act, state overtime class actions may now be removed to federal court provided the cases meet the expanded federal jurisdiction. In such cases, employers may begin to benefit from the more stringent federal class action rules.

This was a typical bait-and-switch by the rightwing. Talk about abusive tort cases and use it to quietly attack the rights of poor workers suffering minimum wage and overtime violations. But now that it's the law, the employer class can gleefully celebrate their new legal toy.

Posted by Nathan at May 18, 2005 08:36 AM