Updated: Mar 4
The Private Attorneys General's Act (PAGA)
California has adopted a variety of powerful regulations that allow 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, usually 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 it comes to defending their right to equal pay in California, PAGA may be the single most relevant rule for workers.
What exactly is PAGA?
In effect, the Private Attorneys General Act or PAGA requires workers who are exposed to unlawful labor law breaches to act as private attorneys general in order to recover civil damages from their employers who have broken the labor code of the state. As an employee, you have the right to bring a lawsuit against your employer, much as the Attorney General of the state would, if your employer violates California wage and hour laws.
In 2004, at a time when the state of California lacked the money to go after enterprises that violated the labor laws of the state, 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 in order 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 and/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. If 65 days have passed and no notice is issued by the state of California, the employee will go ahead and file a PAGA complaint, which is a representative case on his or her behalf or on behalf of other aggrieved workers.
Under PAGA, a "aggrieved worker" is the 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 himself or herself and all aggrieved workers of that company, an employee who has been injured files a PAGA complaint.
It is important to note, however, that PAGA cases vary from class actions, largely because the criminal suits are basically law enforcement actions. Furthermore, class actions must meet other procedural criteria that are not satisfied by PAGA cases. Therefore, a PAGA case is easier to bring than a class-action lawsuit is to bring.
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 very well lead to positive reforms in the workplace. Almost all PAGA cases filed against companies result in changes in their dishonest and fraudulent activities because they do not want to face these fines again. There are positive developments that 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, in order to compete, California firms are much less likely to cut corners, and this raises the playing field for all enterprises. Basically, PAGA motivates enterprises to act with caution. Employers who are committed to following the law's 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. Los Angeles employment lawyers, in these cases, do the job. It is important to mention that the dilemma we have 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 employment laws in California without PAGA would be sky-high.
There are a variety of corporations pushing to get rid of or at least weaken the PAGA. But, it will be a serious mistake, since California employees would lose their essential rights from violations of labour law if PAGA goes down. PAGA is therefore equitable to businesses in the way that, without fines levied, it offers organizations the ability to correct their violations.
PAGA investigates a host of violations of California employment law, 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 lawyers 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.
What's The Process For A PAGA Lawsuit?
The object of PAGA is not to recover the worker's damages, but to provide a way of appointing people to administer the labor laws of the state as private attorneys general. 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.
That said, 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 sorts of violations of the labour 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 who is filing the claim, and you will sign a waiver from the company who pays the fines. A pre-screened employment lawyer in Los Angeles can review your employment contract and determine if you're able to file a claim.
It is also important 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, as a result of your PAGA lawsuit, you will not reclaim salaries. A PAGA action is essentially designed to enact labor codes aimed at defending Californians and penalizing employers for criminal activity or violations of the law.
The employee bringing the action must give written notice to not only the employer, but also 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 in court after this filing process is done. For a new PAGA claim, there is a $75 filing fee.
In order to substantiate the suspected violations, a PAGA written notice should clearly state which sections of the California Labour Code have been violated and should contain facts and evidence. In fact, to substantiate the claims raised against the employer, the PAGA notice should include information, facts and hypotheses. The more you can include information and evidence, the better your argument would be. PAGA lawsuits must be made within one year of the occurrence of these violations. In other words, when it comes to PAGA lawsuits, there is a single-year statute of limitations.
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 (which is 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 do win in a PAGA action, you will even be entitled to collect legal fees and court costs in addition to obtaining 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 committed by his or her employer, to seek damages for any such breaches committed by the employer 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. He or she will present the lawsuit on behalf of his or herself 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 a 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 charges are being investigated by the authorities. The corporation or person being prosecuted is often not informed about the case of qui tam. The government should have specifics and particular facts about the suspected crime with a qui tam complaint and documentation justifying it.
The prosecution later, with the help of the whistleblower's counsel, reviews the claims and makes a decision as to whether they can join the lawsuit. Even if the government decides that it will not intervene, whistleblowers will file a PAGA application and prosecute those cases on their own. 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 Los Angeles Employment Lawyers 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 California employment attorney.
Each case has distinct barriers. In order 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. In order to counsel you and strike terror in the hearts of your company's lawyers, you need an accomplished, proven California employment lawyer with experience in PAGA cases.
Our pre-screneed 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.
How Do I Request An Unbiased Referral To A Pre-Screened, Ethical California Wrongful Termination Lawyer?
You can submit a request online 24 hours a day. Free case review within 15 minutes.
By calling the employee right's 24-hour hotline at 1-661-310-7999