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A Guide to Miami Collective & Class Actions

Employment Collective and Class Action Lawsuits in Miami

Unpaid wages, wage discrimination, harassment, and other workplace violations often affect more than one employee in a single workplace. When one worker has the courage to speak up or sue the employer, other similarly impacted coworkers are more likely to follow and join the cause. When many employees join a single claim against their employer, they start what is known as a collective or class action lawsuit.

Florida and federal labor laws allow similarly-affected employees or former employees by employment violations to file a class or collective action lawsuit against their employer and seek compensation.

The employment lawyers at the FairLaw Firm empathize with you and are ready to fight for your rights in court.

Collective Action vs. Class Action Lawsuits

While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, class and collective actions are not the same. Here’s how they differ.

The Governing Laws

Wage and employment class actions that are pursued in a Florida state court are regulated under Rule 1.220 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Federal class actions, including those pursued in a federal court in Florida, are governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Collective actions are governed by 29 U.S.C. §216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Process

In a class action lawsuit, the parties usually engage in some discovery before the court decides to certify the case as a class action. The employer is required to provide relevant information and documents.

Collective action lawsuits operate differently. In a collective action lawsuit, the parties normally exchange little to no discovery, and the court decides to certify the case as a collective action early in the case once the requirements are met. The employer is required to provide the contact information for the affected employees.

Opt-in and Opt-out

The most notable difference between a class and collective action is the requirement that employees “opt in” or join a collective action to be able to participate and be bound by the results obtained. However, members of a class action are automatically included unless they notify the lawyers that they do not wish to participate and want to “opt out” of the lawsuit and not be bound by any settlement or result.

Employment Collective and Class Action Claims in Miami, FL

Minimum Wage

Employees in Florida are entitled to bring a claim against their employer when it violates the Florida Minimum Wage Act, Fla. Stat. §448.110.

The minimum wage required by Florida law is currently set at $11 per hour, and the wage paid to a tipped employee must equal or exceed $7.98 per hour. You may be paid less than the minimum wage required by Florida law if your employer pays you less than $11 per hour or requires you to share your tips with owners, managers, supervisors, or other ineligible people. If so, you have the right to retain the services of a Florida minimum wage attorney. Employment Law in Miami protects your right to fair and equal pay.

Living Wage

Fla. Stat. §218.077 allows local governments and public bodies created by the state to set higher minimum wages and provide employment benefits to their employees and the employees of their contracting and subcontracting companies.

Covered employees of local governments and companies contracting or subcontracting with local governments are entitled to at least the current living wage under local living wage ordinances. Covered employees in Miami-Dade County, for example, who are not paid the current living wage may bring a class action against the employer and recover back pay, benefits, attorney fees, and litigation costs under the Miami-Dade County Living Wage Ordinance §2-8.9.

Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors

People who should have been classified and paid as employees in Florida but are otherwise classified as independent contractors can pursue a class or collective action against the employer under the Workers’ Compensation Compliance Rule 69L-6.018 of the Florida Administrative Code. 

A misclassified employee is every person who meets the definition of an employee set forth in the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law Fla. Stat. §440.02(15) but is reported or identified by their employer as an independent contractor.

If more than one employee has been misclassified by the same employer, they may be able to start a class action under the Florida Minimum Wage Act or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 

Alternatively, they may pursue a collective action under FLSA, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or other federal laws, depending on the nature of violations.

Prevailing misclassified employees are entitled to compensation for unpaid wages and fringe benefits, including overtime wages and expense reimbursement.

Equal Pay

Employees in Florida are entitled to equal pay as their peers who perform similar jobs under a number of state and federal laws, including:

Employees who are paid less than their peers based on their race, sex, religion, national origin, or other protected classes can file for class actions under CFRA in a Florida court. If the employer’s actions violate federal laws, affected employees may pursue collective actions in a federal court.

Consult our workplace discrimination lawyers for professional legal advice.

Miami Class and Collective Actions Process

Employees may file a class action on behalf of themselves and other employees without requiring their permission. However, for a claim to be eligible for certification as a class action lawsuit, it must meet the following requirements set forth by Florida Rule 1.220 and Federal Rule 23:

  • The number of employees affected is so big that it would be impractical to file separate lawsuits or to name every person in the lawsuit.
  • The violation involves questions of law or fact that, when answered for one employee, would resolve the issue for everyone else.
  • The representative and named plaintiffs have claims that are typical of the claims that the other class members could bring.
  • The representatives, meaning the employee(s) who bring the lawsuit and the attorney representing the employee(s), will fairly and adequately represent the class and protect their interests.

The process of filing a class or collective action may differ, but it usually includes the following steps:

1. Consulting an attorney

An experienced attorney will investigate your claim and assess the possibility of a class or collective action.

2. Filing a complaint

Your attorney will file a written lawsuit explaining the facts and legal grounds of the claim and why it should be handled on a class basis.

3. Obtaining collective or class certification

If your claim qualifies for a class or collective action lawsuit, based on the requirements detailed above, the court will certify the class and approve its representative.

4. Notifying the class or collective

Members of the class or collective receive a court-approved notice that sets out the facts of the lawsuit and their rights. Employees who do not wish to participate in the class action may opt out in writing within the timeframe established by the court. Employees who want to join a collective action must file an “opt-in” form.

Depending on the nature of the claim, employees who prevail in a class action lawsuit can recover unpaid wages, back pay, liquidated damages, and attorney fees.

Benefits of Class and Collective Actions

1. Pooled resources and strengthened claims

Class and collective action lawsuits allow employees to combine resources, evidence, and legal expertise for a more robust and influential case against employers who are better funded and able to mount a formidable defense. These lawsuits also help ensure that employees can access high-quality legal representation that may have been otherwise unaffordable.

2. Increased access to justice

Collective and class actions provide a pathway for employees who may not have been able to pursue their claims individually to bring their claims – which may not be for a lot of money individually – together with others to make the case more formidable and worthwhile.

3. Potential for higher settlements

Collective and class actions can demonstrate the widespread impact of a company’s unlawful actions or negligence, leading to increased pressure for a bigger settlement by the public and the state. For this reason, employers may be more inclined to negotiate a settlement out of court to avoid the risks and costs of a large-scale trial and its effects on their reputation.

4. Efficient and streamlined proceedings

Class and collective actions can save time, effort, and resources, resulting in efficient court proceedings and reducing the burden on the judicial system. 

FairLaw Firm Supports Florida Employees

Our experienced, empathetic, and fierce employment attorneys at the FairLaw Firm are ready to fight for you and your coworkers. We have won several lawsuits on behalf of employees who suffered workplace discrimination, unfair pay, and unpaid wages. If you have suffered these or other employment violations, we can help you.

Contact us today for a free consultation!