Courts are beginning to rein in collective actions, in which a few complaints about unpaid overtime can explode into massive litigation if courts aren’t careful.
Recent case: A group of manual laborers at a Tecon Services facility in Houston sued for unpaid overtime. They were allowed to represent all similar co-workers at the facility. After the company admitted that some of its Houston laborers might have been underpaid, lawyers for the group asked the court to expand the lawsuit to include all laborers at all Tecon locations.
The court denied the request, reasoning that there was no evidence that the company had a nationwide policy not to pay overtime. That decision kept a case involving 300 workers from becoming a litigation bonanza involving 3,000 workers. (Rueda, et al., v. Tecon Services, No. H-10-4937, SD TX, 2011)