We’re pleased to share a thoughtful look at whether lawsuits alleging illegal pay disparities under California law are suitable as class actions. This post, recently featured on Seyfarth’s Pay Equity Issues & Insights Blog, provides some compelling reasons to argue that they’re not.
Seyfarth Synopsis: Over the past few years we have seen groundbreaking changes to equal pay laws across the country and this trend does not seem to be slowing down. Pay equity litigation is also on the rise and we are now seeing more pay equity cases come into the spotlight, including putative class actions brought on behalf of groups of employees. Some recent examples include Ellis v. Google, Inc., No. CGC-17-561299 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Sept. 14, 2017), which we reported on here, and Knepper v. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., No. 3:2018-cv-00304 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2018), which we discuss in this post. An overarching question we have to ask, however, is whether these types of pay equity cases are really appropriate for class treatment given the individualized inquiries that are necessary when analyzing pay differences. We believe they are not.
The Knepper Case
Knepper v. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., No. 3:2018-cv-00304 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2018) is the latest in a wave of putative class actions alleging pay equity claims. In Knepper, a non-equity shareholder of the law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. (“Ogletree”) alleges that “Ogletree’s female shareholders face discrimination in pay, promotions, and other unequal opportunities in the terms and conditions of their employment.” Complaint ¶ 3. Plaintiff asserts nine causes of action against Ogletree, including discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII, the federal Equal Pay Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and the California Equal Pay Act (as amended by the Fair Pay Act), as well as a California Business and Professions Code claim and a claim under the California Private Attorneys General Act. Plaintiff purports to bring these claims on behalf of all similarly situated Ogletree female non-equity shareholders. While the complaint and this type of lawsuit will undoubtedly involve a number of strategic determinations and possible defenses, this post is limited to a general discussion of the appropriateness of class treatment for pay equity claims of this type.
To view the full post, click here.