9th Circuit Rejects Class Action Settlement For Unpaid WagesClass Action Wages 06.04.2015
Class action plaintiffs and lawyers have a duty to represent the entire class of plaintiffs that they represent. However, it is up to courts to police this situation and make sure that these lawyers are fairly representing everyone. This generally comes into play with class action settlements, which require court approval. The court must make sure that the class action lawyers have not unfairly settled a case where they get substantial fees and the actual class members get a pittance. The federal Ninth Circuit recently applied such scrutiny to a class action settlement in Allen v Bedolla, a class action involving claims of unpaid wages. The federal appellate court found that the settlement had several hallmarks of an unfair settlement, indicating that the class action lawyers did not fairly represent the class. The appellate court pointed to the agreement’s provision of substantial attorney’s fees, which would not be challenged by the defense counsel, as well as the provision that any unclaimed settlement funds would be returned to the defendant. The appellate court, however, did not throw the settlement out completely, but sent it back to the trial court for further scrutiny. This scrutiny may send the parties back to the bargaining table and lead to a better deal for the class members.
The case will be complicated by the fact that the women and men are paid very differently. The women on the national team are paid a guaranteed salary and receive other protections like severance pay, injury pay, and paid maternity leave. The men, on the other hand, are paid on a strictly pay-to-play basis on a per game or per event basis.
The EEOC will investigate the players’ complaint and make a determination. The dispute may then end up in court. Of course, the parties may also reach an agreement to resolve the issue – the players are represented by a union and collectively bargain their pay deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
If you are a woman and believe that you are paid less than a male counterpart, you, like Carli Lloyd and our other soccer stars, may have a claim under the Equal Pay Act.
For more information on the Equal Pay Act, see these FAQs from the EEOC.