A class action lawsuit is a claim brought against a company or organization. Some of the most publicized cases have changed every aspect of American history, from legislation itself to popular culture.
Here are five of the most famous suits and how your company can learn from them.
1. Pacific Gas & Electric
Perhaps the most infamous contemporary class action suit, the case against Pacific Gas & Electric in 1993 alleged that the company knew it was contaminating groundwater with harmful chemicals.
Perhaps the most important part of this case for companies to remember is that a class action lawsuit doesn’t just mean paying millions in damages.
Pacific had to pay $295 million to its victims, but it also suffered when the story entered the media. The suit inspired the movie Erin Brockovich, which permanently tarnished the company’s name.
2. Eveleth Taconite Co.
In the 1970s, legislation changed that required all industries to open their jobs to women and minority workers. But this change didn’t come with any protections for those workers. In 1988, female miners brought one of the largest sexual harassment class action suits to date against Eveleth Taconite Co.
No company likes to deal with claims of sexual harassment. But it’s important to remember that all employees have legal protection against such harassment and can win a suit brought up if the behavior isn’t addressed.
3. Roe v. Wade
Now part of everyday language, the Roe v. Wade action legalized abortion until the end of the first three months of pregnancy.
Roe v. Wade is a reminder that a single class action can revolutionize legislation. Keep yourself updated on any changes in your industry.
4. Tobacco Master
In 1998, the five largest tobacco companies in the nation faced one of the largest class action suits ever. The end result was that the companies had to make all internal documents public, completely change their advertising tactics, and contribute to healthcare costs.
This lawsuit serves as a reminder that if a business move seems immoral, it’s probably also illegal.
5. Board of Education of Topeka
This suit is the oldest on this list, and probably the most important. This class action made segregation illegal.
At the time, most schools were segregated (or all one race). This suit proves that just because something has been done a specific way for some time, doesn’t mean that method can be defended under the constitution.
Successful class actions almost always occur when a company has committed major wrongdoings. Your best protection is to consult with a lawyer to ensure that you aren’t setting yourself up for a suit.
Additional Info Source: http://ottingerlaw.com/employment-cases-investigations/