Class Actions Blog

Posts Tagged ‘overtime’

Minor League Baseball players get class action certified

Posted on: April 13th, 2017 by Steve Larson

Just in time for the start of the 2017 baseball season, a federal judge in California has certified a class action on behalf of thousands of disgruntled Minor League Baseball players who allege that they should be paid minimum wage and overtime. The players are from different “clubs” across the state of California. They have worked countless hours throughout both the official season and the off-season, participating in conditioning and training in addition to playing official games. Minor League Baseball is part of a player feeder system for Major League Baseball and it has long been thought that minor league players are “paying their dues” in expending the long hours for comparably bad pay.

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U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of class actions in Tyson Foods case

Posted on: March 25th, 2016 by Steve Larson

justiceThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other Big Businesses had hoped that the U.S. Supreme Court would further undercut class actions in a class action against Tyson Foods being considered by the court.  Contrary to the hopes of Tyson Foods and the various amici that filed briefs in support of Tyson’s position, the Supreme Court on March 22, ruled that it is acceptable for trial courts to allow the use of statistical estimates when establishing liability in multiparty cases against companies.  Tyson Foods had asked the court to limit claims to only those that could prove individual injuries.

The decision was 6-2, and expressly stated that lawyers for corporations had read too much into recent precedents curbing class-action litigation, like Dukes v. Wal-Mart.  Read more…

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Second Circuit reverses dismissal of contract attorney overtime claim against Skadden

Posted on: July 24th, 2015 by Steve Larson

wagesThe Second Circuit has reversed the dismissal of temporary attorneys’ putative overtime class action against Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, saying document review work doesn’t necessarily amount to practicing law.  The appellate panel agreed with the lower court’s conclusion to look to North Carolina law in determining whether plaintiff David Lola was practicing law under the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act, but said in remanding the case that the trial court erred in concluding that “engaging in document review per se constitutes practicing law.” Read more…

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Quinn Emmanuel loses bid to appeal wage and hour class action brought by temporary attorneys

Posted on: January 27th, 2014 by Steve Larson

Law and justice concept, gavelQuinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP has lost its attempt to appeal a New York federal judge’s refusal to dismiss a putative class action over the law firm’s alleged failure to pay overtime to temporary attorneys.

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams refused on Dec. 20 to grant the law firm’s motion to have a decision denying its bid to dismiss the suit certified for interlocutory appeal. The judge said there were no exceptional circumstances that justified an expedited appeal.

“In its December 11, 2013 order, the court ruled that it was not clear from the face of the complaint that defendants were entitled to dismissal of the action based on their affirmative defense,” the order states. “Recognizing that the question of whether plaintiff was engaged in the practice of law under [the Federal Code of Regulations] was potentially dispositive, however, the court ordered the parties to conduct limited discovery on that single issue and noted that it would entertain summary judgment motions after that limited discovery. There is simply nothing about this case at this time that presents such ‘exceptional circumstances’ that ‘justify a departure from the basic policy of postponing appellate review until after the entry of a final judgment.”

Quinn Emanuel and another defendant, Document Technologies, had also asked the court to stay the would-be class and collective action pending a determination from the Second Circuit. An immediate appeal would have allowed the Second Circuit to promptly weigh in on the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime exemption for professional employees, and on whether the defendants’ proposed test for ascertaining if that standard has been met should be adopted as a matter of law.

The law firm argued that although the New York federal court had announced one test, another district court recently adopted a test akin to the defendants’, pointing to a Nov. 13 ruling by a Texas federal court as well as a pending suit against Skadden Arps.  The Plaintiff, Henig, who said he was hired to review documents for Quinn Emanuel for about six months in 2012, filed suit in March 2013. In light of the “extremely routine nature” of his duties, he was not exempt under federal or state overtime laws, he argued.

In addition to Quinn Emanuel, Henig targeted legal staffing outfit Providus New York LLC. Document Technologies acquired Providus in 2012.

Under the FLSA, attorneys practicing law are normally considered professionals not entitled to overtime pay, and Quinn Emanuel argued that the case should be dismissed.

But Judge Abrams said in her Dec. 11 ruling that it was unclear that Henig was exempt from overtime as Quinn Emanuel had contended, and that she would not throw out his claims without more study.

The judge indicated that the case would turn on whether Henig was practicing as an attorney.

Most courts have considered when someone is not practicing as an attorney — usually in the context of cases against nonlawyers who may have breached laws that bar laypersons from pretending to be attorneys — but what it means to practice law in this context seems to be a question of first impression, the judge said.

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  • Steve Larson

  • Steve Larson
  • Steve Larson has been representing investors, consumers and employees in class actions in Oregon for over 20 years. He is a shareholder at the law firm of Stoll Berne in Portland, Oregon.
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