Chalk up a win for employers that fear huge class-action lawsuits. A North Carolina judge has decertified a class action against CEVA Freight, a freight hauler. The suit had alleged the company was underpaying some 2,000 drivers across the nation.
U.S. District Court Judge Frank D. Whitney had certified the class in January 2011, but depositions taken since then show that many of the drivers negotiated individual contracts with the carrier. Whitney cited the Supreme Court decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes in his decision to decertify the class because it lacked the commonality necessary for a class-action suit.
Unless the drivers’ attorneys can win certification on appeal, the individual drivers will have to pursue remedies individually. As a practical matter, many will not because their individual circumstances will not entice a lawyer to represent them.
Note: While the Wal-Mart decision prevents many class actions, employers should periodically examine their policies to ensure they do not discriminate against any single group.