Employees are often placed at a disadvantage in workplace litigation due to the superior bargaining power of their employers. Thus, when an employer violates workplace laws, a common strategy for plaintiffs is to gather together a group of employees who have suffered from the same violation in order to file a class action lawsuit. By forming a group, the plaintiffs increase their financial power in litigation, as well as their bargaining power during settlement negotiations.
A new case decided by the California Supreme Court on July 13, 2017 makes it easier for plaintiffs to find other employees who may have been impacted by workplace violations. In a rare unanimous decision, the Court determined that a plaintiff does not need to show that his or her case has merit before gaining access to the employer’s records for employee contact information. Instead, this information must be provided at the onset of litigation, before the court either makes a determination of merit, or certifies a class of plaintiffs (which must occur before class action litigation can proceed).
JD Supra reports that the decision made only two small concessions to employee privacy concerns. First, the Court ratified a rule of case law which allows employers to notify affected employees about the potential release of their information and opt out of having their information released. Second, the Court also endorsed a prohibition against employee contact information being disclosed outside of the confines of a specific lawsuit. Continue reading