Updated: Dec 8, 2022
This post tackles everything you need to know about the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and how it benefits or affects your employment-related case in California.
California has adopted various powerful regulations that allow the wage and hour laws of California to be applied. Unfortunately, in this state, when it comes to filing class-action cases against their employers, there are a lot of employees whose hands are tied because the corporation they work with requires them to sign binding arbitration agreements.
The Private Attorneys General Act, referred to as PAGA, is the only means for these workers to seek justice when employers shortchange the salary to which they are entitled. Yet there will be nothing to discourage employers from breaching the wage and hour laws of the state because of this very critical regulation. When defending their right to equal pay in California, PAGA may be the most relevant rule for workers.
What Exactly is Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) ?
In effect, the Private Attorneys General Act or PAGA requires workers exposed to unlawful labor law breaches to act as private attorneys general to recover civil damages from their employers who have broken the state's labor code. As an employee, you have the right to bring a lawsuit against your employer, much as the state's Attorney General would if your employer violates California wage and hour laws.
In 2004, when the state of California lacked the money to go after enterprises that violated the state's labor laws, PAGA was passed. As a reaction to more and more employers brazenly shortchanging their workers and not paying them equal salaries, the state legislature passed PAGA.
An employee who is affected must make a petition with the State of California to file a PAGA case. This argument would include descriptions of all the evidence to support the company's violations of the California Labor Code or California wage and hour violations. The state of California has 65 days to inform the employee of the state's decision to begin an investigation.
Suppose 65 days have passed, and the state of California issues no notice. In that case, the employee will file a PAGA complaint, a representative case on their behalf or behalf of other aggrieved workers.
Under PAGA, an "aggrieved worker" is a worker in a company who has broken the wage and hour laws of California or the laws set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the state (OSHA). Usually, on behalf of themselves and all aggrieved workers of that company, an employee who has been injured files a PAGA complaint.
However, it is essential to note that PAGA cases vary from class actions because criminal suits are law enforcement actions. Furthermore, class actions must meet other procedural criteria not satisfied by PAGA cases. Therefore, a PAGA case is more accessible to bring than a class-action lawsuit is to get.
What Are The Benefits Of PAGA?
PAGA safeguards the interests of workers first and foremost. In addition to empowering employers to obtain restitution for their losses incurred by labor abuses, PAGA also provides them with the right to seek justice that may lead to positive workplace reforms.
Almost all PAGA cases filed against companies result in changes in unethical and fraudulent activities because they do not want to face these fines again. Positive developments help all workers, not just those who work there at the moment, but all future employees as well.
PAGA offers an innovative compliance tool. Therefore, to compete, California firms are much less likely to cut corners, raising the playing field for all enterprises. PAGA motivates enterprises to act with caution. Employers committed to following labor laws and doing the right thing for their staff are also not left behind.
For the state of California, PAGA also means increased income. It is a fact that for the state of California, PAGA raises millions of dollars in revenue without the state having to deploy its capital. Employment Lawyers in Los Angeles, in these cases, do the job. It is essential to mention that our dilemma is not the lack of good legislation in California. We have decent rules, but there is no adequate procedure for such laws to be followed. Violations of California employment laws without PAGA would be sky-high.
Various corporations are pushing to eliminate or at least weaken the PAGA. But, it will be a severe mistake since California employees would lose their fundamental rights from labor law violations if PAGA goes down. PAGA is, therefore, equitable to businesses in that, without fines levied, it allows organizations to correct their violations.
PAGA investigates a host of violations of California employment laws, including minimum wage violations, unpaid wages, missing lunch times and rest breaks, misclassification of employees, unreimbursed company costs, and miscalculated pay scales. While PAGA critics argue that it is only a means for California Employment Attorneys to make money, they leave out the argument that it raises income for the state and, most critically, for aggrieved employees who have been denied equal pay. PAGA supports all and provides safeguards for disabled employees. PAGA is also one of the reasons why the economy of California has grown and prospered over recent years.
So, the next time you need an unemployment lawyer in Los Angeles, don't hesitate to hire one!
What's The Process For Filing A PAGA Lawsuit?
The objective of PAGA is not to recover the worker's damages but to provide a way of appointing people to administer the state's labor laws as a private attorneys general act. It is necessary to note that the relief offered by this statute is designed to help the general public and not the party or group of people pursuing the suit.
In a PAGA lawsuit, you could also claim punitive damages, which is how it is possible to make employers pay fines for wage and hour violations or any violations of the labor code. Nevertheless, though 25% of the penalties recovered go to the jobs, 75% of the penalties recovered via PAGA go to the state of California. PAGA fines could add up to a substantial amount of money, depending on the type and scope of the breaches.
However, in a PAGA motion, there is no way to guarantee how much the fines will be or how much workers will get. Many courts will probably grant you extra money if you are the worker filing the claim, and you will sign a waiver from the company that pays the fines. A pre-screened Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles can review your employment contract and determine if you can file a claim.
It is also essential to understand that, as part of PAGA, you can not reclaim back wages or compensation that your company did not pay you. Under PAGA, you can only recoup fines. So, due to your PAGA lawsuit, you will not reclaim salaries. A PAGA action is essentially designed to enact labor codes to defend Californians and penalize employers for criminal activity or law violations.
The employee bringing the action must give written notice to the employer and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency before bringing a PAGA claim (LWDA). It is important to file a PAGA written note online. The California Labor Code specifies that a formal notice must be submitted by registered mail to the contractor. A PAGA case can be brought to court after this filing process is done. For a new PAGA claim, there is a $75 filing fee.
A PAGA written notice should clearly state which sections of the California Labour Code have been violated and contain facts and evidence to substantiate the suspected violations. To confirm the claims against the employer, the PAGA notice should include information, facts, and hypotheses. The more you can consist of information and evidence you have, the better your argument will be. PAGA lawsuits must be made within one year of these violations. In other words, there is a single-year statute of limitations regarding PAGA lawsuits.
Consider these as you're considering filing claims under employment law in Orange County, Los Angeles, and the rest of California. Make sure you research and find the best employment law firms for employees.
Penalties Related To PAGA
The penalties can add up very quickly under PAGA. Under PAGA, for each pay cycle, the legal penalty against the company for an individual violation is $100 per job. For any future breach, the punishment for each pay cycle is $200 per employee. Therefore, the worker will be entitled to collect $25 (25 percent) for each violation per pay period for each original violation and $50 for each additional violation per pay period. So the fines under PAGA will quickly add up. If you win in a PAGA action, you will be entitled to collect legal fees and court costs and obtain a share of the fines.
Often, honors from PAGA are discretionary. Under the PAGA, it is possible to leave to the judge's discretion the fines that a court orders businesses to pay for the breaches. Eventually, however, the court must grant PAGA fines if it is found that the contractor abused the Labor Code of the state. PAGA allows an aggrieved worker, or a person negatively harmed by at least one violation of the California Labor Code, to seek damages for any such breaches by retaining one of our pre-screened Employment Lawyers in Los Angeles. An employee trying to recover PAGA penalties may also not do so as an individual. They will present the lawsuit on behalf of his or themselves and other workers.
PAGA Litigation And Qui Tam
A qui tam litigation is a form of civil action taken on behalf of the government by a whistleblower who reports wrongdoing by an employer. As compensation for revealing his or her boss, the person who brings such an action will theoretically receive a share of the amount collected (penalties). PAGA is a form of qui tam statute that requires an aggrieved employee on behalf of the state to collect civil damages, the California Supreme Court has said.
Any private citizen has the right under the False Claims Act to sue a corporation or a person that is committed fraud against the government and to recover money on behalf of the government. The qui tam case is filed under lock, ensuring it is not open for viewing by the media or the public, as the authorities are investigating the charges. The corporation or person being prosecuted is often not informed about the qui tam case. The government should have specifics and particular facts about the suspected crime with a qui tam complaint and documentation justifying it.
With the help of the whistleblower's counsel, the prosecution later reviews the claims and decides whether they can join the lawsuit. Even if the government decides it will not intervene, whistleblowers will file a PAGA application and prosecute those cases independently. Defendants held guilty under the False Claims Act could be ordered to pay up to three times the losses of the government as well as fines on each false claim. Via mediation agreements rather than a courtroom, most successful qui tam lawsuits are settled. The case may go to trial in some circumstances.
It is also necessary for workers to note that for blowing the whistle, helping the government to prosecute bribery or corruption, or taking a PAGA suit, the employer does not have the right to retaliate against them. Jobs are well within the protections afforded to them to pursue these proceedings against their employers under California rules. Employees may have a reason to bring an unfair firing case requesting reimbursement for damages and injuries if an employer fires an employee in revenge for filing a qui tam lawsuit or PAGA lawsuit.
How Our California Employment Lawyer Can Help You?
Employers in California are well aware of the consequences these rules bring, so they will take advantage of the opportunity in whatever manner they can if they are faced with an individual who does not have a competent Los Angeles Employment Lawyer.
Each case has distinct barriers. To secure your legal rights, you may not take the "right" steps without a deep knowledge of PAGA laws and how they relate to your unique case. To counsel you and strike terror in the hearts of your company's lawyers, you need an accomplished, proven California Employment Attorney with experience in PAGA cases.
Our pre-screened California Employment Attorneys have a long and successful track record of defending aggrieved employees and keeping their employers responsible. They have the skills and ability to advocate for your interests and help you seek full justice for your damages, whether it's a PAGA action, qui tam litigation, or a class action lawsuit.