Cy Pres Awards: Using Unclaimed Funds to Promote Fair Pay

In wage and hour class and collective actions, after underpaid employees are compensated, there are often remaining funds that cannot be distributed to the affected workers. In such circumstances, counsel may recommend that the residual funds be contributed to a non-profit organization that works to address the type of problem faced by the workers in the case. Because such grants can help vindicate the affected workers' rights in the future, they have been recognized by state and federal courts as an appropriate "next best" or "cy pres" use for unclaimed funds.

The National Employment Law Project: A Natural Choice for Cy Pres Awards in Wage and Hour Cases

For nearly 40 years, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) has been a leader in advocating for working families' right to fair pay. Especially with the launch of NELP's National Wage and Hour Clearinghouse, NELP is a natural choice for cy pres awards from wage and hour actions. The Clearinghouse serves as a tool for increasing enforcement of wage and hour laws and promoting workers' rights to fair pay through the sharing of resources and strategy among wage and hour litigators, organizers, educators, and other advocates.

Because of NELP's leadership in the wage enforcement field, we have been recognized by courts as an appropriate recipient of cy pres awards, based on the generous recommendations of firms such as Outten & Golden and Michael Shen & Associates. NELP is a 501(c)(3) organization, and the cy pres funds would be used to expand the Clearinghouse and NELP's collaboration with and support for the community groups, worker centers, unions, and plaintiffs' attorneys working to stop wage theft and the erosion of the minimum wage floor and right to overtime pay. Any cy pres award would be gratefully acknowledged on the Clearinghouse home page.

For more information how you can name NELP as a cy pres beneficiary, please contact Cathy Ruckelshaus at (212) 285-3025 x306 or