Good news: Court nixes class action for unrelated claims — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Good news: Court nixes class action for unrelated claims

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Good news on the class action front. A federal court has refused to allow a lawsuit to go forward as a class action when it was clear that none of the employees named in the complaint had anything in common except that they worked for the same company.

Recent case: The litigation started when one black employee who worked for the Denver Health and Hospital Authority alleged that she had been retaliated against and constructively discharged because of her race. The woman had complained about being moved to a cubicle from an office while convalescing from carpal tunnel surgery.

Her attorneys sought out other black employees who had grievances and asked to represent all similarly situated workers. But, as the court pointed out, they had wildly different claims. One said she had been fired when car trouble made her late for work. Another said she had been discriminated against because she was Hispanic and Jewish. The attorneys tried to argue that what they had in common was that their employer treated non-white employees less favorably than white ones.

The court refused to create a class action, concluding that there was no common employer practice tying their claims together. (Atwell, et al., v. Denver Health and Hospital Authority, No. 06-CV-02262, DC CO, 2008)

Final note: Class actions are expensive and time-consuming and can result in huge awards. It’s great news that Colorado courts are reining them in.

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