Clothing chain dodges the class-action bullet in California court

A California judge has denied class-action status in a lawsuit against Wet Seal, a clothing chain known for its affordable, fast-fashion take on current trends in young womenswear. The company still faces wage and hour accusations from employees who allege they faced unfair out-of-pocket expenses while working at the company, but it will be spared from a potentially huge class action suit.

The store's employees claimed that they were expected to dress in clothes that they bought from the chain but were not reimbursed for those out-of-pocket costs. Employers are generally responsible for any costs incurred by employees in the course of their employment.

Some also contended that they were expected to drive from store to store and were not properly reimbursed for travel costs like mileage. Wet Seal's attorneys, however, contended that this was not the case and the store honored its standing policy of reimbursing employees for travel.

The judge's decision to deny class action status may have been influenced by statements from management and some employees that they were reimbursed for travel. In addition, the judge heard statements that employees were asked to dress in a style consistent with the chain's products but were not required to shop there. Had the class action been successful, Wet Seal may have been on the hook for claims by up to 12,000 employees.

Employees who have been affected may still bring individual claims against the chain. However, individual suits are often more expensive and difficult for each participant, whereas class-action status makes it

If you feel that you have been a victim of a wage and hour violation or have not been adequately compensation for work you performed or out-of-pocket expenses incurred at your job, consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney. They can help you navigate relevant state and federal law, pursue any appropriate legal claims or other remedies and make sure that your rights as an employee are protected.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, "Judge rules against Wet Seal class action," Jack Katzanek, Nov. 15, 2012

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