The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) in California allows employees to act as “private attorneys general” and bring lawsuits against employers who violate state labor laws. Under PAGA, workers can sue their employer on behalf of themselves and other employees who were similarly affected by the same labor law violations.
In 2023, the Supreme Court of California is set to rule on three PAGA cases that may have substantial implications for employers.
The three questions the court will address are:
- Will employees who have executed arbitration agreements with PAGA representative waivers be permitted to prosecute claims of other alleged aggrieved employees?
- Will employers be permitted to assert that some PAGA claims are unmanageable and therefore cannot proceed on a representative basis?
- How will employers settle a PAGA case where there’s a concurrent PAGA case with overlapping claims?
Additionally, California voters will have the option to reform this law with the California Fair Pay and Accountability Act initiative on the 2024 ballot. The initiative would repeal the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and replace it with a new law with unknown impacts on employees’ rights.
The experienced employment attorneys at Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC quickly adapts to labor law changes. We’ll be able to adapt your PAGA claim to meet current California state law.
What Labor Law Violations Can Be Pursued Under PAGA?
Under PAGA, a wide range of labor and employment law violations can be pursued, including but not limited to:
- Failure to provide meal and rest breaks
- Failure to provide overtime pay
- Failure to provide accurate wage statements
- Misclassification of employees as independent contractors
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Failure to pay employees for hours worked
- Failure to reimburse employees for necessary business expenses
- Violation of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws
- Failure to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities
- Failure to provide safe and healthy working conditions
- Retaliation against employees for reporting labor law violations or participating in legal proceedings related to labor law violations.
If you believe that your employer has violated labor laws in California, it is important to consult with an experienced employment attorney to determine whether you have a potential PAGA claim or other such legal rights or recourse available to you.
Are Employment Attorneys Necessary In PAGA Lawsuits?
While it is not required to hire an employment lawyer to file a PAGA lawsuit, it is highly recommended to seek advice from an employment law firm, like Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC
An employment attorney can help determine the best course of action for a potential PAGA claim, including conducting an investigation into the employer’s practices and determining the scope of the potential workplace violations. Additionally, an employment attorney can also help assess the strength of a potential claim and evaluate the potential damages and penalties that may be available.
How Do You File A PAGA Claim?
Before filing a PAGA claim, it is important to determine whether you have a potential claim based on alleged unfair labor practices or law violations by your employer. You may want to consult with labor law attorneys to evaluate your potential claim.
- Provide notice to the employer: You must provide written notice to your employer at least 65 days prior to filing the lawsuit. The notice must include specific information about the alleged violations, the names of the employees affected, and the remedies sought.
- File the PAGA action: After providing notice to the employer and filing the notice with the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, you may file a PAGA action in court. The action is filed on behalf of yourself and other employees who have been affected by the same labor law violations.
- Serve the employer with the lawsuit: After filing the PAGA action, you or your labor lawyer must serve the employer with a copy of the lawsuit and the summons, which notifies the employer of the lawsuit and the deadline to respond.
- Proceed with the lawsuit: After the employer has been served, the lawsuit proceeds like any other civil lawsuit. The parties will engage in discovery, which involves exchanging information and documents relevant to the case. The case may also go to trial or be resolved through settlement or alternative dispute resolution.
It is important to note that the process for filing a PAGA claim can be complex and technical, and may vary depending on employment laws and the specific circumstances of the case.
Does PAGA Make It Easier To Recover Penalties?
Under PAGA, an employee who prevails in a lawsuit can recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves and other aggrieved employees for each violation of a labor law committed by the employer. These penalties can add up quickly, especially if there are multiple violations and multiple affected employees.
It’s important to note that PAGA has its own set of rules and limitations that govern the recovery of penalties. For example, the penalties are split between the employee and the state, and the employee’s share of the penalties may be subject to taxes and other deductions.
How Does PAGA Lawsuit Differ From A Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?
A PAGA and a wrongful termination lawsuit are two types of employment law claims under different state laws.
A wrongful termination lawsuit is a claim alleging an employer has terminated an employee in violation of a specific law, public policy, or practice. Examples of wrongful termination include:
- Discrimination: An employer cannot fire an employee because of race, gender, age, national origin, religion, or disability.
- Retaliation: An employer cannot fire an employee in retaliation for exercising a legal right, such as filing a complaint about harassment or discrimination or taking protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Breach of Contract: If an employee has an employment contract that guarantees them employment for a certain period of time, the employer cannot fire the employee before the end of the contract term without a valid reason.
- Whistleblowing: If an employee reports illegal or unethical behavior by the employer, they are protected from retaliation, including termination, under California law.
- Violation of Public Policy: An employer cannot fire an employee for reasons that violate public policy, such as firing an employee for refusing to break the law.
While there may be some overlap between PAGA claims and wrongful termination claims, they are distinct causes of action and require different types of evidence to succeed.
Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC Has Significant Experience In PAGA Employment Law Cases
If your employer violated your rights, you may have a PAGA case. The labor lawyers at Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC have significant experience in multiple areas of California and federal laws meant to protect employees.
Contact an attorney in our office for a free consultation and skilled representation for your case. We provide phone consultations. To speak with an attorney, call us at 833-201-0213 or send our firm an email. We will promptly return all email contacts with a phone call.