Brittany Berzin, a senior associate with Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC., was a guest speaker in the Sacramento Business Journal’s The Inside Track, a series of live discussions with Sacramento business owners.
Berzin spoke on the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), which authorizes aggrieved employees to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations. Berzin also spoke on the United States Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana.
The Inside Track Presented By The Sacramento Business Journal
Like most forums, one party was pro, one against, and then a question-and-answer segment. The Sacramento Business Journal brought Berzin to speak on what employees need to know about PAGA. Elizabeth Stallard of Downey Brand LLP provided a counterpoint for what employers should know.
“I think it’s important to talk to employers and businesses about the law,” Brittany said of The Inside Track series. “One, for a deterrence reason because I think if they know what penalties are out there, then there’s more incentive for them to make sure they have good policies and practices. Second, hopefully, if they’re staying apprised of the law, then they’re able to use that information in order to follow the law, pay employees correctly, and treat them fairly.”
The Inside Track event discussed the Supreme Court ruling and its effect on PAGA. The high court’s ruling allows employers to limit California employees from bringing individual PAGA claims in Court if the employer has the required language in their arbitration agreements.
Have you been wrongfully terminated? Experienced discrimination in the workplace? Not received the overtime you deserve? Call Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC. for a free consultation today.
How Do Arbitration Agreements Affect PAGA Claims In California?
Berzin said employers often include arbitration agreements in new hire paperwork, and it’s crucial for employees to read what they’re asked to sign at the beginning of their employment because some items, like an arbitration agreement, can affect employees’ legal rights.
“In arbitration, depending on the language in the agreement, an employee may not be able to bring all of the same types of claims, like class or PAGA claims, that he or she would be able to bring in court,” Berzin said. “Employees don’t know they signed an arbitration agreement many times, and even if they know they’ve signed it, they may not know what all the ramifications are.”
Some common Labor Code violations she shared with the audience that could become a basis for PAGA claims included employers failing to factor in commission or bonus pay into the calculation of overtime or meal and rest period premiums, failing to properly track time and ensure employees have an opportunity to take meal and rest breaks, and misclassifying workers as contractors or salary/exempt.
Why Attorneys At Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC. Participate In Community Events
Berzin said speaking at events throughout the Sacramento Region allows her and her colleagues at Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC. to:
- Meet future opposing counsel, allowing the firms to building a rapport with potential opposing counsel that may work toward the client’s advantage.
- Convey to the public and the legal community that Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC. stays at the forefront of ever-changing employment laws.
- Events like The Inside Track create opportunities for attorneys at Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC. to communicate the firm’s values.
“They see that we keep up with new laws, we’re doing thorough work, and that we provide honest, realistic advice,” she said.
The California Supreme Court granted a review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of PAGA. The court’s decision is expected sometime in 2023. Meanwhile, trial courts compelling arbitration of individual PAGA claims must decide whether to follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation.