Practice/Industry Group Overview
Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP is a recognized leader in protecting the rights of employees. The firm’s Employment Practices Group is committed to protecting the rights of current and former employees nationwide. The firm is dedicated to representing employees who may not have been compensated properly by their employer or who have suffered investment losses in their employer-sponsored retirement plan. The firm also represents individuals (often current or former employees) who assert that a company has allegedly defrauded the federal or state government.
Faruqi & Faruqi represents current and former employees nationwide whose employers have failed to comply with state and/or federal laws governing minimum wage, hours worked, overtime, meal and rest breaks, and unreimbursed business expenses. In particular, the firm focuses on claims against companies for (i) failing to properly classify their employees for purposes of paying them proper overtime pay, or (ii) requiring employees to work “off-the-clock,” and not paying them for all of their actual hours worked.
In prosecuting claims on behalf of aggrieved employees, Faruqi & Faruqi has successfully defeated summary judgment motions, won numerous collective certification motions, and obtained significant monetary recoveries for current and former employees. In the course of litigating these claims, the firm has been a pioneer in developing the growing area of wage and hour law. In Creely, et al. v. HCR ManorCare, Inc., C.A. No. 3:09-cv-02879 (N.D. OH), Faruqi & Faruqi, along with its co-counsel, obtained one of the first decisions to reject the application of the Supreme Court’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 certification analysis in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes et. al., 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011) to the certification process of collective actions brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”). The firm, along with its co-counsel, also recently won a groundbreaking decision for employees seeking to prosecute wage and hour claims on a collective basis in Symczyk v. Genesis Healthcare Corp. et al., No. 10-3178 (3d Cir. 2011). In Symczyk, the Third Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling that an offer of judgment mooted a named plaintiff’s claim in an action asserting wage and hour violations of the FLSA. Notably, the Third Circuit also affirmed the two-step process used for granting certification in FLSA cases. The Creely decision, like the Third Circuit’s Genesis decision, will invariably be relied upon by courts and plaintiffs in future wage and hour actions.
Some of the firm’s notable recoveries include Bazzini v. Club Fit Management, Inc., C.A. No. 08-cv-4530 (S.D.N.Y. 2008), wherein the firm settled a FLSA collective action lawsuit on behalf of tennis professionals, fitness instructors and other health club employees on very favorable terms. Similarly, in Garcia, et al., v. Lowe's Home Center, Inc., et al., C.A. No. GIC 841120 (Cal. Sup. Ct. 2008), Faruqi & Faruqi served as co-lead counsel and recovered $1.6 million on behalf of delivery workers who were unlawfully treated as independent contractors and not paid appropriate overtime wages or benefits.
The firm’s Employment Practices Group also represents participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1874 (“ERISA”). In particular the firm protects the interests of employees in retirement savings plans against the wrongful conduct of plan fiduciaries. Often, these retirement savings plans constitute a significant portion of an employee’s retirement savings. ERISA, which codifies one of the highest duties known to law, requires an employer to act in the best interests of the plan’s participants, including the selection and maintenance of retirement investment vehicles. For example, an employer who administers a retirement savings plan (often a 401(k) plan) has a fiduciary obligation to ensure that the retirement plan’s assets (including employee and any company matching contributions to the plan) are directed into appropriate and prudent investment vehicles.
Faruqi & Faruqi has brought actions on behalf of aggrieved plan participants where a company and/or certain of its officers breached their fiduciary duty by allowing its retirement plans to invest in shares of its own stock despite having access to materially negative information concerning the company which materially impacted the value of the stock. The resulting losses can be devastating to employees’ retirement accounts. Under certain circumstances, current and former employees can seek to hold their employers accountable for plan losses caused by the employer’s breach of their ERISA-mandated duties.
The firm’s Employment Practices Group also represents whistleblowers in actions under both federal and state False Claims Acts. Often, current and former employees of business entities that contract with, or are otherwise bound by obligations to, the federal and state governments become aware of wrongdoing that causes the government to overpay for a good or service. When a corporation perpetrates such fraud, a whistleblower may sue the wrongdoer in the government’s name to recover up to three times actual damages and additional civil penalties for each false statement made. Whistleblowers who initiate such suits are entitled to a portion of the recovery attained by the government, generally ranging from 15% to 30% of the total recovery.
False Claims Act cases often arise in context of Medicare and Medicaid fraud, pharmaceutical fraud, defense contractor fraud, federal government contractor fraud, and fraudulent loans and grants. For instance, in United States of America, ex rel. Ronald J. Streck v. Allergan, Inc. et al., No. 2:08-cv-05135-ER (E.D. Pa.), Faruqi & Faruqi represents a whistleblower in an un-sealed case alleging fraud against thirteen pharmaceutical companies who underpaid rebates they were obliged to pay to state Medicaid programs on drugs sold through those programs.
Based on its experience and expertise, the firm has served as the principal attorneys representing current and former employees in numerous cases across the country alleging wage and hour violations, ERISA violations and violations of federal and state False Claims Acts.