Because many wage and hour claims are individually worth a relatively modest amount, if is often more economical to bring these claims as a collective action on behalf of all the people who also suffer the same harm. For example, if a credit card company overcharges interest to one customer by unfairly and secretly "rounding up" interest, that is something that likely affects many more than just one person. Similarly, if a company under-calculates overtime for one employee, that is something that may affect many more than just one employee.
While it may be uneconomical for just one person to sue, it is extremely economical for one company to underpay thousands of people. The class action is designed, in part, to address these types of situations by allowing one person to represent many hundreds or thousands more who have similar claims and similar harms.
Certain criteria are required for a wage and hour class action. First, there must be many people involved. You can't have a class of one, nor can you have a class of twenty. In order to even consider the action as a class, many courts require at least 100 similar employees. Next, the representative needs to be willing to work for the benefit of the class and not just him or herself. The representative is like a champion and stands up for the many others who don't know or can't stand up for themselves. Finally, the representative's claims must be basically the same as the other people that form the class. Obviously, it is much more complicated than this and in fact, this description is far from complete and far from completely accurate. But this is a simple and brief overview.
To get a better and more accurate understanding, you need to speak with an experienced class action attorney. Call Yoon Law, APC for a free consultation today.