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Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA): Forging Ahead

THE QUEST FOR CLARITY UNDER CALIFORNIA’S PAGA: RECENT RULINGS TO HELP YOU VALUE THE CASE

team of three people in aprons left two crossing armsA speck on the horizon: The birth of the Private Attorneys General Act statute

 

When the California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) was enacted, it created a new frontier in the realm of California employment law. (Lab. Code, §§ 2698, et seq.) For most of the last fifteen years, PAGA claims were generally filed ancillary to class claims and were rarely independently litigated. In the last five years, however, standalone PAGA lawsuits have increased, in part, to avoid the preclusive bite of arbitration agreements. (Iskanian v. CLS Transportation (2014) 59 Cal.4th 348.) This article builds upon our prior article, “Light, Camera, Representative Action,” and aims to shed light on some of the developments in California wage-and-hour laws over the last year through the lens of the PAGA. We hope that these insights will help attorneys value their PAGA cases and navigate towards successful resolution.

Plotting the course: PAGA basics

The California Legislature enacted the PAGA in order to “maximize compliance with state labor laws.” (Arias v. Superior Court (2009) 46 Cal.4th 969, 980.) The PAGA enables private citizens to step into the shoes of the State of California and act as private attorneys general in order to enforce the state Labor Code. Under the PAGA, a plaintiff employee (who complies with the statutory notice requirements) may commence a representative action to recover penalties on behalf of other “aggrieved employees” and the State of California. Although PAGA actions allow employees to seek collective relief, the traditional class action requirements are not applicable to PAGA claims. (Arias, 46 Cal.4th at 975.)

 

Read the entire Advocate article: PAGA: Forging ahead (PDF)

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