Class action lawsuit or collective action lawsuit occurs when one person or a small group of people files a lawsuit on the behalf of a larger group. The larger group is the “class” or “collective” in class action or collective action lawsuit here. When the lawsuit is filed, the lawsuit, through the filings with the court and the court’s decision, will define the class that is being represented. After the class is defined, anyone who meets that particular definition comes to be known as a class member.
As described above, a class action or collective action lawsuit is often filed by a person or small group of people on behalf of a larger group. It does not cost anything to be a part of a class action lawsuit and you are free to opt-out (choose to not participate) or opt-in (choose to participate) once you receive notice that the class action is going on if you wish. Whether you are able to opt-out or have to opt-in depends on which type of class action Most class action lawsuits wind up settling, though some do go to trial.
Lawsuits go through several steps before anyone is able to participate. The case must go through its initial steps, motions must be filed with the court to define the class or collective, and then a notice is approved and notice period set. Potential members of the lawsuit will then be notified by the attorneys representing the class action or collective action lawsuit to allow them to either opt-out or opt-in depending on what type of class or collective action it is. When it comes to class actions, you will automatically be included in the class if you qualify. You are able to opt-out of the case as well if you wish to. For collective action cases, you will be notified and must opt-in if you wish to participate. Both the opt-out and opt-in periods have specific time frames that apply and you must either opt-out or opt-in within that period.
You can also check websites like Class Action Database, most of these websites can be found through a simple google search. You can specifically search for class actions related to your current or former employer through google to try to find which attorneys are handling cases against them.
Even if you don’t receive a notice regarding the lawsuit, this does not mean you do not qualify. Depending on the topic of the lawsuit, you may still qualify if you fit the description of the class or collective. You can get in touch with the law office that is handling the lawsuit and generally the attorney leading the class will create a page specifically for the case where you can find more information.
Occasionally you may not know you are part of a class action lawsuit until the case has been settled. If identities of the class members are unknown, notices might not be sent and the notices might be posted via magazines, newspapers, and online.
In most class actions or collective action, you do not need to do anything to join the lawsuit. Since they typically fall under the category of opt-out lawsuits, most class members (whose legal interests are represented by the suit) will automatically be included.
You will usually only need to really get involved once the case settles. You may need to submit a claim online or through the mail to receive your part of the settlement. Further information on how to submit claims will be available in the class notice you get in the mail.
In some instances, class actions may fall into the opt-in category. This means that you will need to elect to become a part of the lawsuit.
Should you receive a class action or collective action notice in the mail, you will want to read it carefully. It will provide you with information regarding the lawsuit and instructions on how to claim part of the settlement, as notices tend to be sent out after a case has been settled.
Being part of a class action or collective action lawsuit can be a new experience, especially if you are not sure if you are actually part of one. If you think you may be part of one or are unsure, call the Paycheck Warriors at Barkan Meizlish, LLP today or contact us via email. We can help you maneuver the ins and outs of learning if you are a part of a lawsuit.
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