Articles Posted in Class-Action

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It’s often more cost effective for companies to hire independent contractors to perform certain jobs, rather than hiring employees. Even for part-time employees, companies are responsible for paying things like employment taxes and Social Security, none of which they have to worry about with independent contractors. There are benefits to working as a true independent contractor, but because independent contractors are not protected by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers have to meet very specific requirements in order to legally be considered independent contractors.

Under the FLSA, workers classified as independent contractors must be able to negotiate their own rates, have control over their own schedule, the environment they work in, and have a certain level of discretion as to how they perform their duties, among other things. Any and all workers who do not meet all of the necessary qualifications for independent contractors must be classified and compensated as employees, including benefits (such as health insurance) for full-time employees.

Many employers have been illegally classifying drivers as independent contractors and FedEx is just one of several companies to have recently faced multiple class action wage and hour lawsuits from drivers alleging they should have been classified as employees.

Current and former FedEx drivers from approximately 40 different states have been filing wage and hour lawsuits against the giant shipping company for more than ten years now. Many of those lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) and then certified as class actions so that drivers from all across the country could combine their claims against FedEx. Continue reading

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In this online shopping age, when consumers click “place your order” on Amazon.com or any retail website, do they really know what they are agreeing to? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently considered the question in Nicosia v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15‐423‐cv (2nd Cir. 2016).

In 2013, Dean N. bought a weight loss pill on Amazon called “One Day Diet,” which unbeknownst to him, contained sibutramine, a controlled, prescription-only substance that had been pulled from the market by the FDA in 2010 because of health risks. Sibutramine was not listed on the site as one of the product’s ingredients, nor did Amazon require a prescription for purchase. The FDA revealed in November 2013 that One Day Diet contained sibutramine.

Dean brought a putative class action against Amazon, alleging the online retailing giant had sold and was continuing to sell weight loss products containing sibutramine in violation of federal law and state consumer protection laws. He alleged breach of implied warranty and unjust enrichment, seeking both damages and an injunction prohibiting Amazon from further sale of products containing sibutramine. Continue reading

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Despite the high number of lawsuits that get filed these days, actually taking a lawsuit all the way to trial isn’t as common as a lot of TV dramas would have you believe. It’s an expensive and time-consuming process, which means it’s usually a last resort for everyone involved. Most people try to use mediators or some other form of neutral third party before they resort to asking a judge to weigh in on their dispute.

Even after a lawsuit has been filed, the parties involved get together outside of court to negotiate a settlement agreement. If they can reach a consensus, then they can avoid the hassle of pursuing the trial and put an end to the matter. It’s certainly better than spending the considerable time and money involved in pursuing legal matters, but it takes more than just the two parties agreeing to a settlement in order to avoid trial: the judge presiding over the case has to approve the settlement agreement.

Settlement negotiations can take place any time between the filing of a lawsuit and the start of the trial, which means the judge usually does not have all the information when deciding whether to approve the settlement agreement. Nevertheless, the judge will have received at least the plaintiff’s complaint and some sort of response from the defense. The judge then has to use whatever information they have been given in order to make sure the settlement agreement is fair to both parties. Continue reading

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In addition to defining things like overtime and the minimum wage, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to maintain several other labor practices in order to make sure they are not taking advantage of their workers. For example, the FLSA requires employers to provide all their workers with detailed wage statements that list the pay period, the number of hours worked by the employee, the amount of wages earned, wages withheld, and wages paid. Employers are required to maintain records of all this information for at least seven years with the possibility of hefty fines from a court or a government body, such as the Department of Labor, if they fail to do so.

In addition to the FLSA, each state has its own laws protecting the employees that work within its boundaries. California not only has a higher minimum wage than the federal limit, but also requires employers to provide all their non-exempt hourly workers with regular meal and rest breaks throughout the day: one paid, uninterrupted rest break after every four hours of work and one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break for every five hours of work. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, they are entitled to one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages, tips, bonuses, etc. earned that day.

California labor law also requires employers to provide their workers with all the wages they’ve earned within a timely manner (72 hours) after their termination of employment. If an employee provides at least 72 hours notice prior to the termination of their employment, then all their wages are due upon termination. Continue reading

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Plenty of consumers who use Google to look up information have long been complaining about the company selling their information to advertisers, but now it’s the advertisers who are complaining about Google’s practices.

In this case, the advertisers whose internet ads were placed via Google’s Adwords program, have filed a class action lawsuit alleging the tech giant deceived them about the placement of their ads. According to the lawsuit, the objective of the Adwords service is to place ads alongside relevant internet searches. For example, if someone looks up exercise tips, Google might place ads for local gyms and/or personal trainers alongside the search results.

Instead, the lawsuit alleges ads appeared on error pages and undeveloped websites, which are also known as parked domains. This type of placement does nothing to help the advertisers because only a few, if any, people will see their ads. In fact, such a placement can even hurt the advertiser if a frustrated consumer accidentally finds themselves on an error page or an undeveloped website and they associate the advertiser with a failure to maintain that website/webpage.

Companies pay to have Google post their internet ads in places where they’ll be seen by their target audiences, so if Google is instead placing these ads on unused websites and webpages, then the advertiser has paid for a service that doesn’t benefit them at all and may even harm them. Continue reading

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A recent class action lawsuit filed against Facebook may end up having far-reaching implications for large companies that do business all over the country. The lawsuit has to do with the facial recognition technology the social media company utilizes to allow users to “tag” themselves and each other in photos that get posted on the site.

The named plaintiffs of the class action lawsuit sued Facebook in Illinois for allegedly violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law requires companies using facial-recognition software to inform their customers of the facial-geometry data that is being collected, how long the information is stored for, and how it gets used.

The law also requires companies to get a written release from consumers to authorize the company to collect the data. Negligent violations of BIPA come with statutory damages of $1,000 and $5,000 for violations that are considered to be intentional and reckless. Continue reading

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Americans love our convenience, but it often comes with a cost, even when we’re not aware of it. One example of the ways in which food manufacturers have catered to this desire for convenience is by selling pre-grated parmesan cheese so that it’s ready to go straight from the grocery store into a recipe or on top of pasta. It makes shopping for and using parmesan cheese much easier, but there’s a catch. There’s no way of knowing if what you’re eating is really cheese.

In 2012 the FDA found evidence that Castle Cheese Inc. was including non-dairy substances in its Parmesan cheese products. The FDA issued stern warnings, including accusations that Castle’s products marketed as Parmesan and romano were actually a mixture of various cheeses and other ingredients.

Castle, which insists that their consumers were never harmed and that it was merely a mislabeling issue, eventually went bankrupt. but the allegations against Castle have spread to other manufacturers of grated parmesan cheese.

One of the most common additives to grated parmesan is cellulose, an anti-clumping agent made from wood chips. Acceptable levels of cellulose range from 2-4%, but the FDA’s investigations have found much higher concentrations in various food products. Continue reading

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Have you ever wondered if that bank fee or overdraft charge from your bank was legal? If you tried to challenge your bank in a court of law, chances are you found out you had signed an arbitration agreement, which meant you could not settle the dispute in a court of law. Instead, you had to go through arbitration to accuse your bank of charging illegal fees or mismanaging your money.

If you choose to use arbitration, you have to cover all your legal fees yourself, which can quickly reach thousands of dollars. If you believe your bank has illegally taken funds out of your account, the chances are the amount they took was negligible. Three dollars for an overdraft fee may not seem like much, but for some people it can mean passing on a box of groceries. Even if it’s not much for the individual consumer, if the bank is improperly charging these types of fees to a large portion of its customers, it’s probably making a fortune illegally. Continue reading

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Uber has agreed to settle two class-action lawsuits brought by its drivers. One was started in Massachusetts, the other in California, where drivers sued to be considered employees eligible for benefits and not just independent contractors. Under the settlement, they do remain contractors, but Uber will pay up to $100 million to be shared by as many as 385,000 drivers.

Our Maywood, Joliet and Berwyn wage and hour attorneys and unpaid overtime lawyers and attorneys are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages. We represent call center workers who are forced to work overtime but are not paid time and half wages.

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Any time you do anything online, even it’s just visiting a website, you usually have to agree to the company’s Terms of Service. Because these documents can be pages long and we live in an increasingly time-crunched world, very few people actually read the Terms of Service before checking the “Agree” box. Sometimes this lack of diligence gets people into trouble, but depending on how it’s presented, it could be the company that gets into trouble.

When Gary Sgouros filed a proposed class action lawsuit against TransUnion Corp. for allegedly providing worthless credit scores, the company tried to have the dispute sent to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration agreement contained in its Terms of Service.

Sgouros had paid almost $40 for the credit report in 2013 in the hopes of using it to help him negotiate a loan on a new car he was looking to purchase. But the score provided by TransUnion was higher than the number provided to the car dealership by at least 100 points. Sgouros argues this made the credit score he paid for effectively worthless.

In 2014, Sgouros filed the proposed class action lawsuit in Illinois federal court on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated consumers across the country who purchased a credit score from TransUnion any time since 2012. Sgouros is also seeking to represent a subclass of TransUnion customers in Missouri, his home state. Continue reading