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How California Supreme Court Ruling Affects PAGA Claims

by | Aug 14, 2023 | Employment Law

The California Supreme Court ruled on the Adolph v Uber Technologies, Inc clarifying the Private Attorneys General Act

The California Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc. case in July 2023.

The state high court ruled that individual Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims are still subject to arbitration agreements, per the U.S. Supreme Court’s Viking River Cruises v. Moriana ruling. However, the resulting PAGA claim for similarly situated employees can now go through court and is not subject to arbitration.

Individual PAGA claims are still subject to arbitration if the individual employee signs an enforceable arbitration agreement with their employer.

Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC has been recognized by the Sacramento Business Journal for the firm’s expertise in PAGA claims, with employment law attorney Brittany Berzin speaking at an event put on by the publication last year.

Founder and partner Galen Shimoda said the California Supreme Court essentially found a way around the U.S. Supreme Court ruling by effectively splitting PAGA claims into two.

“California basically deputizes employees and attorneys to go after companies for violations of the thousands of labor codes the state has,” Galen Shimoda said. “It’s a strong tool for us to use to ensure that there’s compliance.”

If you believe you have a PAGA claim against your current or previous employer, Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC can help you navigate arbitration if needed.

What Is A PAGA Claim?

PAGA is a unique California state law that allows employees to file lawsuits on behalf of themselves and other aggrieved employees for labor code violations against their employer. PAGA claims enable employees to enforce labor laws when government agencies lack the resources to pursue individual claims.

To qualify as a PAGA claim in California, the following conditions must generally be met:

  1. Employment Status: The individual filing the claim must be an employee. Independent contractors are not eligible to bring PAGA claims.
  2. Labor Code Violation: The claim must involve a violation of one or more provisions of the California Labor Code, such as wage and hour violations (e.g., unpaid wages, meal and rest break violations), failure to provide proper wage statements, overtime violations, etc.
  3. Notification: Before filing a PAGA lawsuit, the aggrieved employee must provide written notice to the employer and the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) regarding the alleged Labor Code violations.
  4. Waiting Period: The employee must allow a waiting period of at least 65 days after the notice is sent before filing the PAGA lawsuit. During this time, the LWDA has the option to investigate the alleged violations.
  5. PAGA Representative: The employee filing the PAGA claim acts as a representative for the government and other current and former employees who suffered similar labor code violations.
  6. Employer Penalties: PAGA claims can result in significant penalties for employers, as the law allows for substantial fines for each violation, per employee, for each pay period.

What Are Arbitration Agreements?

Employers often include arbitration agreements in onboarding documents for new hires to sign. It’s vital that employees thoroughly read any paperwork given to them to sign when they start a new job or as company policies are updated.

In most cases, an employee can refuse to sign an arbitration agreement without facing immediate termination or other immediate adverse consequences. The decision to sign an arbitration agreement is generally voluntary, and an employer cannot force an employee to sign it as a condition of employment.

At-will employees can be terminated for any reason that is not illegal, and refusing to sign an arbitration agreement might be a lawful reason for termination in some cases.

If you believe you have been the victim of wrongful termination because you refused to sign voluntary documents, Shimoda & Rodriguez Law, PC has experienced employment lawyers who can help.

What Labor Law Violations Can Be Pursued Under PAGA?

Under PAGA, a wide range of civil penalties and PAGA penalties 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 (wage and hour)
  • 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 and other employees to determine whether you have a potential PAGA claim or other such legal rights or recourse available to you.

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.