In a groundbreaking unanimous ruling, the California Supreme Court has upheld the state’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), allowing workers to band together and seek penalties against employers for labor law violations. The decision defiantly rejects a prior U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threatened to nullify the California labor law.
Under PAGA, employees can sue their employers, individually or collectively, on behalf of the state for violations related to minimum wages, overtime, sick pay, and meal and rest breaks. Successful suits result in employees receiving 25% of the penalties, with the state receiving the remaining 75%.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed PAGA unconstitutional, arguing it infringed on businesses’ rights when their contracts required workers to resolve disputes through individual arbitration, rather than going to court. However, Justice Goodwin Liu’s recent 7-0 ruling emphasizes that California remains the ultimate authority on state law. Consequently, while employees may need to arbitrate their individual claims, they can still unite with co-workers to sue employers on behalf of the state.
The rationale behind PAGA is to address widespread labor law violations by employers, where one employee’s rights violations are often only a fraction of what the company commits. By prohibiting employees from seeking penalties on behalf of their co-workers, PAGA’s purpose would be undermined.
Although the recent ruling is a victory for workers’ rights, it doesn’t eliminate the threat to PAGA entirely. Business groups have qualified an initiative for the November 2024 ballot to repeal the law and allow individual employees to sue their employers for labor law violations, collecting 100% of the penalties without attorneys’ fees.
Despite potential challenges, Michael Rubin, a lawyer representing workers, expressed confidence that PAGA will endure, citing its positive impact on labor protections and workplace law enforcement.
Are you currently experiencing unfair labor practices at your workplace, but feeling overwhelmed and silenced? It’s time to break free from the chains of injustice and take action! Don’t let your rights be trampled upon – you deserve better!
If you find yourself trapped in a situation where your employer is violating labor laws, don’t suffer in silence any longer. Reach out for support and guidance from the dedicated team of Labor Law Advocates in California. We understand the challenges you face and are committed to empowering workers like you to fight for justice. Call us for a free consultation.