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You’ve Been Sued For A Wage & Hour Violation–Now What?

By June 23, 2011

Cummins & White’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group has litigated numerous complex wage and hour cases in state and federal courts, drawing on the extensive experience of its trial attorneys.  We have successfully defended a wide variety of such claims, including the following:

  • Misclassification of employees as exempt or as independent contractors
  • Failure to pay otherwise exempt employees on a salary basis
  • “Off-the-clock” and regular rate cases
  • Donning and doffing activities
  • Unpaid on-duty meal periods
  • Miscalculated commissions and bonuses
  • Tip pooling

The experience of Cummins & White’s wage and hour trial lawyers allows us to manage our clients’ wage and hour disputes efficiently and effectively from the moment litigation begins.  More than any other state, California’s complex Labor Code poses unique risks for employers.  However, the firm has developed specific strategies in wage and hour claims, including class actions, allowing us to successfully navigate the complex procedural issues that may arise in wage and hour litigation, many of which may be a trap for the unwary.

Case Evaluation—Our experienced trial lawyers begin with a thorough evaluation of the case.  We work diligently to understand our client’s business, the Plaintiff’s responsibilities at the business, and any nuances that may positively or negatively impact the case. The initial evaluation includes an analysis of the client’s exposure and development of a strategic plan.  We also help our client in developing an immediate document retention plan and address litigation hold issues.

Fact Finding—We  gather as much data and facts about the claim as possible.  We work with our client to find evidence in its own records that support our position.  Email correspondence between the employer and Plaintiff prove valuable in establishing a case. (i.e. acknowledgement of job duties, etc.) Cell phone records and other equipment data also are reviewed to help establish work hours, lunch and rest breaks, etc.

Armed with a complete understanding of the facts and evidence, we are prepared to oppose class certification, conduct discovery, perhaps bring a motion for summary judgment and, in a class action, ultimately decertify the class.

Resolution—From the initial case evaluation, we prepare a case as if it is going to trial. While many cases settle out of court, the diligent preparation allows us to negotiate with confidence at any time, and also provides a winning trial strategy, should the case be resolved in court. As with any litigated case, our goal is to always conclude the litigation as soon as practicable, particularly if the client’s exposure is significant or if the cost of defense will be substantial.  If appropriate, we will engage in settlement discussions, which may include a formal mediation or settlement conference.  Alternatively, we will file a dispositive motion.

Should the case go to trial, our attorneys are skilled and successful trial lawyers. We have tried hundreds of cases from bench trials to jury trials. This is important when selecting an attorney, as courtroom experience is essential to a successful resolution.

We understand the fear and frustration an employer experiences when a legal claim is made against his or her business. We work hard to communicate with our clients through the entire process, alleviating the fear of the unknown and developing a strategy that builds confidence in our client about the case. Our goal when defending an employer against a wage and hour claim is to defend the case effectively and efficiently and always in a manner that is consistent with our clients’ business goals.