Employment law cases for employees are often difficult. They often feel isolated and with the sense that their treatment or discrimination is only happening to them. With the evisceration of the union movement, workers are often subjected to unfair treatment and lack contractual protection.
Workers may be misclassified as “exempt” or as independent contractors, in order for an employer to avoid many expenses, or there may be wage and hour violations, allowing an employer of save overtime costs.
Because of at-will hiring practices and the lack of representation, it can be difficult for an employee to know where to turn.
Many of the abuses in employment law have migrated to white-collar environments, where large corporations are able to manipulate workers to their advantage, often using their ignorance of labor law to exploit them with low wages or no wages.
A recent class action settlement from Conde Nast for $5.8 million was a result of the corporation’s practice of using unpaid interns. Many of the interns were likely to have been thrilled to be working for such a prestigious company as Conde Nast, but some probably began to recognize that there was something unjust an illegal with their unpaid internships.
For workers in this situation, a class action lawsuit was their only option. Given that they were interns, even if they had been paid, they would have been at minimum wage, and their “damages” would barely cover the court costs for filing the lawsuit.
There were about 7,500 interns who were members of this class, and that allowed the damages to be aggregated and make a case viable.
Reuters.com, “Condé Nast agrees to $5.8 mln settlement in suit over intern pay,” Mica Rosenberg, November 13, 2014