Today, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court that covers Maine and other New England states, held that a class action against the Caritas Christi hospital network could go forward. The plaintiffs in the case allege that Caritas failed to pay them, and employees like them, for work performed during meal breaks, for work performed before and after shifts, and for time spent at training sessions.
Caritas successfully persuaded the trial judge to dismiss the lawsuit because it argued that the complaint the plaintiffs filed was not detailed enough. The First Circuit rejected this argument recognizing that in this case, like most employment cases, the employer likely possessed information that the plaintiffs will need to prove their case. The court also recognized that it is sometimes difficult for plaintiffs to predict what facts a judge will find essential to a valid complaint. So, the court advised the trial judge, when the case comes back before him, to provide the plaintiffs an explanation of what information must be added to the complaint.
This case is an example of a growing trend. Employers have increasingly tried to get cases against them thrown out on technicalities rather than fighting them on the merits. If you have an employment case, you should seek representation from an experienced employment lawyer who is familiar with these tactics and has experience fighting them.