Is it a conflict of interest if I am an employee of a company, and also a shareholder, and then I become a member of a class on whose behalf a class-action lawsuit is filed?
If it’s a shareholder derivative suit, the actual plaintiff is the corporation, not the shareholders. There wouldn’t be a conflict because the idea of the suit is to challenge some wrongdoing being done against the corporation. Whether the shareholders bringing the suit on behalf of the corporation recover anything is incidental.
The plaintiff is the shareholders as a class, suing the corporation for mismanagement resulting in a loss of shareholder value (i.e., stock price).
So I would be part of a class suing the company while I am still an employee there. If the company wins, it would benefit me as an employee, and if the shareholders win it would benefit me as a shareholder.
I replied without being fully informed, that could be wrong. I’ll have to check the notice.
Are you in management? Senior management? I’d be less likely to find it problematic if you are a line employee who, say, purchases stock through an employee stock purchase plan. Consider Enron, where such employee stockholders were devastated by the company’s actions. If a class-action lawsuit had been an option, who would have blamed them? (They did in fact file suit, but by that time they were “former employees.”) On the other hand, if you are part of senior/executive mangement responsible for whatever shareholder-unfriendly action was taken, then also benefit from the class action lawsuit, that would be more controversial.
It is possible for employees, as employees, to benefit from a class action lawsuit against the employer. See here for an example: http://www.allianceibm.org/pensionlawsuitfaq.htm