Tennessee Legal Blog

Do you want to "opt in" to a class action lawsuit?

When an individual is injured or suffers damages from a particular product, it is likely that others have suffered, too. This is particularly true for big brands and companies, from car manufacturers to toy brands. It makes little sense for a single person to engage in a costly lawsuit against a big company, when hundreds if not thousands of people have suffered in a similar way. This is where class action lawsuits come in.

Class action lawsuits can be brought about by any number of people who suffered in a similar way because of the negligence or recklessness of another product or company. This might be against a pharmaceutical company that produced a drug that had a dangerous effect, or vehicles that had a fault because of a design or manufacturing defect.

Water contamination brings environmental mass torts claims

When a national or international corporation move its regional headquarters into a small Tennessee town, it can mean a significant economic boost. Residents may find jobs, and other businesses may move in or crop up to fill new demands. Unfortunately, a large corporation can also wreak havoc with the environment of a small town, resulting in mass torts claims. Depending on its product, the manufacturing process may pollute the air, erode the soil, contaminate the water or in other ways destroy the habitability for people and nature.

Such appears to be the case in another state. Members of a small town have come together in a class action lawsuit against a manufacturer of plastics and microwave PCB circuits. Despite strict regulations for waste control and water purification, the drinking water in the town became contaminated with high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid.

Amazon pay policy causes wage disputes

Overtime hours may not be attractive to a Tennessee worker who has already spent 40 hours doing heavy, manual labor. This is why overtime pay is an important incentive and one that is protected by law. The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes guidelines to prevent employers from taking advantage of their employees by mandating time-and-a-half pay for hours worked beyond 40 each week. Unfortunately, some organizations violate FLSA and force their workers into wage disputes.

Amazon is one example of a company that has faced past accusations of wage theft, and the most recent case involves its delivery workers. One delivery driver in another state has filed a lawsuit against Amazon and a local logistics company contracted to make deliveries for Amazon. The employee claims deliver workers' pay was based on the number of days they worked and not on a 40-hour work week. Additionally, the logistics company paid a flat rate instead of an hourly rate for each truck the workers loaded.

Reality show employees win wage and hour dispute

The average TV viewer in Tennessee may not realize the stress and grind of working on a television crew. However, the hours can be long and grueling, especially for those working on crews of reality TV shows where the participants are filmed throughout the day and night. Viewers may have a better appreciation for the difficult work when they learn that some reality show employees have had to fight through wage and hour disputes to get their fair share.

Reality TV is a way to entertain while exposing the public to lives that may be very different from their own. TLC's "Miami Ink," for example, follows the lives and work of tattoo artists in the resort city. The production company of the show, Original Media, apparently misclassified many employees working on the show, including associate producers and production assistants. This misclassification exempted the workers from eligibility for overtime pay despite the fact that many of them worked between 50 and 80 hours a week.

ERISA protection for Tennessee employees

When a Tennessee employer offers a job to a qualified candidate, the candidate's motivation for considering the position certainly relates to the salary the employer offers. However, the deciding factor is often the benefits package. Besides paying Social Security and federal insurance, private, non-government businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required by law to offer benefits beyond workers' comp, family and medical leave, and unemployment insurance. If employers choose to provide more, they must abide by the rules under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, known as ERISA.

ERISA sets minimum standards for businesses to meet when they include certain benefits in their employee packages. If a private employer with fewer than 50 workers on the payroll offers health care insurance or a retirement plan, those plans are regulated by ERISA. Among other aspects, ERISA oversees the fiduciaries of health care and retirement funds to ensure they are properly administrating the plans.

Understanding mass torts claims and class action lawsuits

Class action lawsuits serve several purposes. Most importantly, they provide a way for numerous people with the same complaint to bring a civil action against a person or entity who may have caused them injury. Class action cases are sometimes referred to as mass torts litigation or multi-district litigation. Tennessee victims of injuries may find relief through class actions that they may not have found otherwise.

Mass torts claims are common when numerous people have suffered from defective products, medical devices and drugs, various types of fraud, or a catastrophic accident such as a plane crash. Class actions are also useful for employment litigation, such as harassment. By consolidating numerous cases into one, the plaintiffs present a more solid case because they can combine evidence and other factors. Class actions also offer an opportunity for victims who have suffered minor injuries to hold the party deemed at fault accountable when they would otherwise have little incentive to seek compensation as a single plaintiff.

Major lawsuit award brings attention to talc mesothelioma cases

When people think of mesothelioma, they often think of workers exposed to asbestos as part of their jobs. It's certainly true that a large number of mesothelioma cases involve people who handled asbestos in a work environment or lived with those who did. Mesothelioma is a deadly and aggressive cancer that can be quite debilitating before eventually proving fatal. While there are treatments to slow its progression, currently there is no cure.

Recent new stories have brought public attention to another potential source of asbestos contamination — talcum powder. This common substance was a staple in American homes for decades. However, new evidence showing it was contaminated with asbestos has been the impetus of multiple lawsuits against major bath and beauty companies, as well as some retailers. People with no other known exposure to asbestos who used talcum powder have developed mesothelioma, leading to concerns about a potential connection.

Wage and hour disputes report surprises many

Few people simply put in their time for their wages. If they have families to support, workers may also make many sacrifices for their jobs, including long hours on their feet, dealing with demanding customers and giving up weekends and holidays. Unfortunately for many workers in Tennessee and elsewhere, wage and hour disputes are common because, too often, employers treat their workers unfairly.

Wage theft is not limited to employees of fast food and sweat shops. A recent report reveals that wage theft may simply be part of the way companies do business. Some common and illegal practices include misclassifying workers, failing to pay minimum wage, forcing employees to work off the clock and denying overtime pay. Despite the fact that these corporations have paid billions in fines and class action lawsuits, they persist in their unfair practices to line their own pockets.

Dr. Pepper employees say company violated ERISA rules

When a Tennessee employee loses his or her job, among other concerns may be the loss of health care benefits, especially if the worker's family is also covered through the employer-based insurance policy. Through the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, workers have the option of continuing their benefits after a job loss or other event that results in the termination of coverage. One company in another state is facing a lawsuit for violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, when it denied workers the option to refuse the COBRA coverage.

Drivers for Dr Pepper Snapple say the company used COBRA to bully them into ending their strike. The workers went on strike after refusing the company's contract offer that fell short of competitive wages. The same day, Dr Pepper Snapple allegedly suspended their insurance coverage and enrolled them in COBRA coverage. It can be expensive to continue the same coverage outside an employer's plan, and not everyone chooses to continue the coverage.

Court ruling affects Chipotle wage-and-hour disputes

Many workers in Tennessee and across the country already feel they have little leverage when it comes to violations of their employee rights. For years, such workers have found satisfaction in pursuing class action lawsuits against employees in areas such as systematic discrimination and wage-and-hour disputes. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision may remove this options for certain workers, and some allegedly ill-used employees are already feeling the repercussions.

A class action lawsuit filed against Chipotle Mexican Grille, Inc., includes about 10,000 workers demanding back pay for hours the company forced them to work off the clock. Employees accuse management of making them clock out at the end of their shifts but insisting they remain to complete any unfinished work. Others were made to do prep work before clocking in, both of which are violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The lawsuit, filed in 2014, included 3,000 workers who had apparently signed agreements to waive their right to join class action lawsuits as a condition of employment with the company.

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