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Employment Class Action

Overview

With high risk comes high reward. We represent employers in employment class action litigation in state and federal courts in Oregon and Washington as well as in the arbitration forum.

Schwabe attorneys have defended clients against employment class action litigation alleging wage and hour issues under both the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws as well as statutory discrimination claims. We use our deep understanding of your industry to create a strategy that supports your goals. We start by considering:

  • the ultimate downside financial exposure to the client and effect on its reputation from an adverse decision;
  • the effect on the client’s established business practices and the need to change those business practices to address the allegations of the complaint;
  • the likelihood of mounting a successful and cost-effective defense to certification of the class and/or the merits of the claim; and
  • the pros and cons of mounting an aggressive defense to the claims as opposed to a more pragmatic solution at earlier stages of the litigation.

Not just saber-rattling

More than financial risk is at stake; class actions may have an adverse effect on how employers are viewed by their employees, stakeholders, customers, and the broader communities in which they are located. We work creatively by consulting with industry and subject matter experts to provide calculated advice and scalable strategies that offer value beyond the courtroom.

We continuously assess and evaluate strategy to further our clients’ business interests, with an eye on the ultimate resolution of the case—whether by dismissal, denial of class certification, summary judgment, trial, or negotiating favorable settlements when necessary.

In addition, we keep clients well-informed of the latest changes to laws affecting their class action litigation. We provide access to a wealth of resources and timely information that enables them to stay abreast of case developments and monitor costs throughout the litigation. 

Experience

  • Represented a large national retailer in class action litigation in Washington. We successfully defeated a motion to certify the proposed statewide class of employees. After that, the plaintiffs’ counsel filed 14 separate county-wide class actions in Washington, which our team successfully defended. We also were involved in the defense of several putative class action arbitration proceedings brought by the same plaintiffs’ attorneys on behalf of employees who had signed arbitration agreements at the time of hire.
  • Represented a large national retailer in class action litigation in Oregon. We received this matter after another law firm had represented the client and a statewide class had been certified. The allegations involved wage and hour issues. The matters were favorably resolved.
  • Represented an international logistics and distribution company in class action litigation regarding an alleged failure to pay rest breaks and for non-productive time under Washington’s Minimum Wage Statute. The parties engaged in extensive discovery and resolved the matter favorably through settlement.
  • Represented a national insulation company in class action litigation regarding an alleged failure to pay rest breaks and for non-productive time under Washington’s Minimum Wage Statute. The plaintiff, a former insulator, alleged that the defendant failed to pay rest breaks and non-productive time separately and hourly from the piece rate compensation work. The parties engaged in discovery. During the litigation, the Washington State Supreme Court held in Sampson v. Knight Transportation, Inc. that non-agricultural employers are not required to pay non-productive time separately from piece rate compensation. With this blow to the plaintiff’s theory, the matter resolved favorably through settlement.
  • Represented a large national banking institution in class action litigation where the plaintiffs alleged wage and hour violations. The matter was favorably resolved.
  • Represented a large national restaurant chain in class action litigation involving allegations of wage and hour violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and whether the employees at issue were “engaged to be working,” which is compensable time under the FLSA, versus “waiting to be engaged,” which is not compensable. The matter was favorably resolved.
  • Represented a large national retailer in class action litigation involving allegations that employees had missed rest and meal breaks, had worked off the clock, and were paid their final wages late in violation of Oregon law. The matter was favorably resolved.
  • Represented a large national insurance company in class action litigation involving allegations of the Fair Labor Standards Act for allowing employees to work off the clock, failure to pay overtime wages, and failure to pay final wages on time. The matter was favorably resolved.
  • Represented a large national telecommunications company in class action litigation involving allegations that the employees had missed rest and meal breaks, had worked off the clock, and were paid their final wages late in violation of Oregon law. The matter was favorably resolved.
  • Represented an out-of-state industrial construction company in class action litigation involving allegations including that the client had failed to pay wages to employees for training, failed to pay the minimum wage, and failed to timely pay final wages upon termination. The matter was favorably resolved.
  • Represented a large national retailer in class action litigation involving allegations that the client required, as a condition of employment, its employees to purchase clothing items from the employer and to wear these items while at work, and that this gave rise to a claim of unlawful deduction under Oregon law and a violation of Oregon’s minimum wage laws. The matter was favorably resolved.
  • Represented a large national retailer in a nationwide disability discrimination class action litigation matter. The allegations included that the client’s employment policies allegedly discriminated against pharmacists who were either recovering drug addicts or alcoholics, protected classes under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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