With the prevalence of employment and labor class action lawsuits, particularly those based on alleged wage and hour violations, the nuances of defending those suits and administering potential settlements are paramount to California employers. One lesser-discussed feature of the class action process is the notice requirement to class members. Throughout the lifespan of the action, potential and actual class members must receive notice at a number of pivotal stages. These stages include, of course, those events closer to the end of the action such as proposed settlements and settlement distributions, but the notice issue can also arise relatively early in discovery (e.g., when the parties participate in a Belaire-West notice process to employees).As is more and more common, social media plays a role in providing notice to class members. Consider a proposed class action settlement, which may only move forward after notice is directed to all class members who would be bound by the settlement. Both federal and California law require that notice be given in a “reasonable manner,” and allow for it to be accomplished through mail, electronic means, or other appropriate means. Social media may be a reasonable “electronic means” to give notice to class members in both federal and California courts. For instance, the Ninth Circuit recently found that even if email notice was infeasible, information about the settlement could be electronically disseminated through social media, or posting on relevant online message boards. In another recent case, the parties were permitted to provide class notice of a proposed settlement through ads targeting class members on social media. These types of supplemental notice are deemed practicable where the parties know the names and other identifying information of the class members, but not necessarily addresses—either physical or electronic.
As the legal market becomes ever more connected electronically, expect social media to become more ubiquitous in administering class actions at each stage of the litigation.