February 18, 2020 Feature

Defending the Class Action (from Its Critics)

Michael D. Donovan

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Class actions allows people to come together and use the market for legal services to regulate the market for commercial services.

Class actions allows people to come together and use the market for legal services to regulate the market for commercial services.

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A company with a computer program can steal more money than a hundred men with guns. (with apologies to Mario Puzo and The Godfather)

Dolores worked in the bakery department of Big Box, Inc., for a little more than ten years. She loved her job but started to have conflicts with younger, aggressive managers who came up with quotas and increased output goals seemingly every month. Despite these increased quotas, fewer and fewer workers were assigned to the bakery, and departing friends were rarely replaced. Unbeknownst to Dolores, Big Box had adopted a “preferred scheduling system” that allocated worker hours not by the time required to do the job but instead by a fraction of the store’s prior sales. The computer program, as designed, would reduce wage expense each year and, in turn, increase profit even if sales remained the same. The managers had to assign workers to complete the same jobs but with fewer work hours allowed year after year.

 

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