There will always be employers who attempt to increase their profits at the expense of their employees.
While California has a history of protecting employees with extensive employment and labor laws, California lacked the resources to pursue companies that violated the state’s labor laws in the early part of this century. Another problem at this time was that many California employees were unable to take advantage of protections under state law because they were handcuffed by restrictive employment agreements. Employers often forced employees to agree in writing to settle their claims and disputes through arbitration rather than litigation.
To counter this problem, the California legislature passed the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) in 2004.
PAGA is a helpful mechanism for employees whose employers try to circumvent California fair wage laws. In fact, PAGA is an invaluable tool for helping employees protect their right to fair wages in California.
Under PAGA, when employers violate state wage and hour laws, California workers can step into the shoes of the Attorney General – The Private Attorneys General Act effectively authorizes employees to act as private attorneys general and recover civil penalties from their employers. Any California worker is empowered to file a lawsuit under PAGA.
The following is a list of some important things to know about PAGA:
- There is a one-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit under PAGA. Any claim must be filed within one year of the alleged violation occurring.
- A California worker must file a lawsuit under PAGA on behalf of other employees as well. It may not be brought individually.
- California workers may not recover back or unpaid wages in a PAGA lawsuit, only penalties under PAGA.
- Aggrieved workers may seek their attorney fees in a PAGA lawsuit.
- Aggrieved employees must file any notice of a new PAGA claim online, and provide a copy to the employer by certified mail.
- A PAGA written notice must specifically state those provisions of the California Labor Code that the employer has allegedly violated, including evidence to substantiate these violations.
- All employer cure notices or other responses to a PAGA claim must also be filed online, with a copy sent by certified mail to the aggrieved employee or his or her representative.
- A filing fee is required for a new PAGA claim notice and any initial employer response to a new PAGA claim notice.
- The filing fee may be waived if the filing party has in forma pauperis status.
- The time for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) to review a notice under Labor Code § 2699.3(a) is 60 days.
- A filed-stamped copy of the complaint in a new PAGA lawsuit must be provided to the LWDA.
- Any settlement of a PAGA action must be approved by the court regardless of whether the settlement includes an award of penalties under PAGA.
- A copy of a proposed settlement must be provided to the LWDA at the same time that it is submitted to the court.
- A copy of the court’s judgment and any other order that awards or denies PAGA penalties must be provided to the LWDA.
- All items that are required to be provided to the LWDA must be submitted online. All PAGA-related notices and documents are no longer required to be submitted to LWDA by certified mail.
PAGA lawsuits may be complex as they require certain steps procedurally to file a successful claim. Moss Bollinger has extensive experience filing actions under PAGA to protect the rights of California employees. We make unscrupulous employers pay the legal consequences of brazenly violating California labor and employment laws. To determine whether your employer has committed a violation of California law and you and your fellow employees may bring a lawsuit under PAGA, call (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or contact us online.