Legal Alert - WARNING: Your Collective Bargaining Agreement May Not Protect You
by Brian Mills
In the past few years, thousands of companies have been targeted by opportunistic plaintiffs’ lawyers looking to make money from hyper-technical violations of state and federal wage and hour laws. Regardless of the sophistication of the company’s payroll or human resources department, misunderstanding, misapplication and/or mistakes of law can occur every day which can cause violations for unpaid wages, multiple penalties and attorneys’ fees. Just one disgruntled union member can then result in a class action case with hundreds or thousands of workers. Depending on the claims, the potential damages could go back four years and add up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Many companies believe that their CBA protects them from these types of class action claims because they have already negotiated with their union as to how to resolve wage and hour disputes through a specific dispute resolution process. Most companies, however, are likely wrong in this belief and have limited or no protection because their CBAs are inadequate.