I'm a representative in a class action lawsuit. However, after I was finally given the final details, feel only the attorney benefits. The amount of unpaid wages owed to me is much more than the settlement amount I will receive from the class action lawsuit. I feel I was lead to believe I would receive all my unpaid wages in addition to a settlement amount from the lawsuit. I would have been better off filing a wage claim with the California Labor Board.
It is a rare event when a class member ever gets the full amount of their claim as a part of settlement. A settlement is a compromise of the full value of the claim. By its very nature, when a claim is compromised, the plaintiff will receive less than what they want and the defendant will pay more than they believe they should. In class actions, class representatives usually receive more than the class members, for their involvement as a representative. Settlements also require approval of the representative(s). These are issues you must discuss with your attorneys. As Mr. Kane says, you may be able to opt out, but there are risks in doing so, so consider this carefully.
You have received good advice here. If you can opt out, yes, you can proceed to vindicate your rights, but you will have to deal with the statute of limitations. You have more than the DLSE option. You can file a lawsuit in small claims court if the amount is low enough. If you need to file, or elect to file in superior court you can possibly extend the statute of limitations for another year (4 years out total) by making a claim under the Unfair Business Practices Act.
Good luck to you.
You may have believed that you would receive all of your unpaid wages in addition to a settlement amount, but I find it hard to accept that you were "led to believe" that. Why would any defendant settle a case to pay everything you think you're owed? There is no value in the settlement to such a defendant; any defendant would instead take the matter to trial. So while you may have believed going in that you were going to get everything owed to you without going to trial, it's hard to accept that your belief was based on anything the attorney said.
When entering into litigation, it's important to be realistic about what it can and can't accomplish. If you're determined to get every penny owed to you, the only way to do that is to go to a jury and risk getting nothing at all if things don't go your way. Moreover, if you go to trial and lose, you could wind up owing the other side tens of thousands of dollars in their costs. That's why most cases settle: both sides have risk.
It's unfair now to say that you were "led to believe" something different, or that "only the attorney benefits" when you and the entire class are getting some part of what you owed. It may not have been everything you wanted, but it's more than you had before the attorney got involved.