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NYC Employment Lawyer > Blog > Employment Discrimination > Is it possible to file a class action employment discrimination lawsuit?

Is it possible to file a class action employment discrimination lawsuit?


When an employee has a grievance against their employer, the overwhelming majority of the time, it will be handled in-house, or in a charge filed with the relevant employment authorities in New York City, State, or at the federal level. However, when an employer’s pattern of behavior affects more than one person in the workplace, collective action may be the best way to handle the issue. This may feel intimidating, but with legal help on your side, you have a better chance at a resolution that benefits everyone.

Giving The Powerless Power

A class action lawsuit is designed to allow the claims of many similarly situated defendants to be tried in an efficient and appropriate way. In a class action suit, one or a few of the wronged parties can represent the interests of the whole class if the class can be certified under the relevant law. Both New York and federal law specify certain criteria that must be met in order to create the class. New York State’s are:

  • The class is so numerous that joinder of all the defendants would be impossibly inefficient;
  • There are “questions of law or fact” that potentially affect every member of the class;
  • The proposed representative has the same claims to make as the other members of the class;
  • The proposed representative party will “fairly and adequately” protect the interests of the class; and
  • A class action is the best, most efficient and appropriate way in which to deal with the controversy at hand.

Too often, individual employees may put up with unfair or unethical treatment from their employer because they feel as though their experiences are too insignificant to merit formal proceedings. However, this outlook can dramatically change if the employee becomes aware that they are not the only person experiencing this kind of treatment – if workers discover that they all have been mistreated, they may all decide to take action instead of being disadvantaged alone.

Class vs Collective Actions

In addition to filing a New York state class action suit, it is sometimes possible to concurrently file under a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and mount what is known in that context as a collective action. The main differences between a class action and a collective action are generally procedural – in both instances, one plaintiff, or a handful of plaintiffs, file suit on behalf of a similarly affected group of people. However, the differences can lead to complications that can, in extreme cases, lead to you missing out.

Perhaps the most significant difference between the two types of cases is the class members’ status. In a class action, a person is considered part of the class if they are ‘similarly situated’ to the plaintiff, and must affirmatively opt-out if they are not interested in being part of the class. In a collective action, the opposite is true; someone must affirmatively choose to opt into the case. Someone who does not know this and joins in a collective action may miss out on receiving any kind of compensation from their employer in the event of a favorable verdict.

Contact A New York Employment Lawyer

Being discriminated against at work, or being denied benefits you are entitled to, can be one of the loneliest events a person can experience, because it is very easy to feel alone. Having a knowledgeable attorney on your side can make all the difference, and the New York City employment discrimination lawyers at Mansell Law, LLC are ready and willing to make certain that you get your day in court. Contact our offices via our website or on the phone at 646-921-8900 to schedule a consultation.



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