In 2004, the California Legislature passed an important piece of legislation. California realized that it did not have the resources to enforce its precious Labor Laws and that the Labor Commissioner office was understaffed and underfunded. It decided to deputize employees, through their lawyers, as Private Attorney Generals. Labor Code section 2699 et al. (PAGA) allows employees to act on behalf of the State and the Labor Commissioner in enforcing labor law violations. It created a civil penalty system to penalize employers for violating provisions of the Labor Code, including $100 for an initial violation and $200 for subsequent violation of the law, per employee and per pay period. These penalties can aggregate to a large number. PAGA allows judges to reduce the penalties based on the circumstances of the violations and fairness to the employer and employee. While most of the penalties, 75 percent, will go to the State, the remaining 25 percent of penalties will be paid to employees who suffered these violations. The Shimoda Law Corp. has many PAGA cases filed against employers for violating laws in California and this law allows for better enforcement. Employers continue to try to find ways to attack PAGA but it is important for the public to understand the importance of this law.
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