February 17, 2005 -- Attorneys at Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm, are advising their business clients across the country that they will see little if any change in the way employment-law class actions are litigated as a result of today's passage of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005.
"Although employment-law class actions are included in its provisions, the Class Action Fairness Act clearly is aimed at consumer-oriented lawsuits against business, such as product liability or environmental protection claims," said Littler class-action specialist Allan G. King.
The Act is designed to shift most large class-action lawsuits out of state courts and into the federal court in an attempt to streamline and standardize litigation of these potentially costly cases.
Even prior to Congress passing Senate Bill 5, most employment-related class actions, such as those alleging overtime pay misclassifications or sex discrimination in promotion decisions, were being filed in federal court, King said. Those cases that were filed in state courts generally were quickly transferred to a district court.
The most dramatic exception to this rule are cases originating in California, where the number of class actions filed in the superior court system is comparable to federal court filings.
King's colleague in San Jose, Christopher E. Cobey, noted that attorneys representing groups of workers who feel they have been wronged by their employer will continue to have the option of suing in California courts if all members of the group live in the state and/or the damages being sought are $5 million or below – not uncommon in employment law.
"Plaintiffs attorneys can tailor their lawsuits to avoid going to federal court if they perceive the federal court will be more hostile," Cobey said.
With more than 400 attorneys and 28 offices in major metropolitan areas nationwide, Littler Mendelson is the largest law firm in the United States devoted exclusively to representing management in employment, employee benefits and labor law matters. The firm's client base ranges from Fortune 500 companies to small-business owners. Established in 1942, the firm has litigated, mediated and negotiated some of the most influential cases and labor contracts in the nation's history. Its affiliated global migration practice, Littler Global, provides support to major companies in moving employees around the world. For more information, visit www.littler.com.