The California Supreme Court has strengthened a law that allows workers to sue their employers in the name of the state for labor law violations, saying companies can’t sidestep the dispute by settling their employees’ individual claims.
The 2004 Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, the only law of its kind in the nation, authorizes employees to file claims with the state alleging violations of wage or workplace laws. The state can take up the case itself or let the employee sue on behalf of all affected workers, who receive 25% of all court-awarded penalties plus attorneys’ fees. The rest goes to the state.
Business groups labeled PAGA a job-killer, but state officials say it has helped to fill gaps in labor law enforcement caused by state staffing shortages. A recent report by groups supporting the law said it netted the state more than $88 million from employers last year while increasing compliance with workplace laws.