September 24, 2020

The California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) gives aggrieved employees the ability to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties for themselves, other employees, and for the State of California. The stringent requirements for class-action certification do not apply to PAGA claims.

The public policy behind creating PAGA included “deputizing” laymen to pursue civil penalties on behalf of the state for Labor Code violations. The law provided that employees could seek statutory penalties of up to $200 per person, per day, on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated employees. Penalties were to be divided among the employee who sued (25%), the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”) (25%), and the California general fund (50%). The employee who sued could also recover attorneys’ fees and costs.
In 2016, Senate Bill 836 made changes to the PAGA requirements, as follows:

– All PAGA claims must be filed online, and sent by certified mail to the employer.

– All employer cure notices or responses to a PAGA notice must be filed online, with a certified mail sent to the aggrieved employee (or his/her attorney).

– The LWDA has 60 days to review the notice.

– Any settlement of a PAGA action must be approved by the court.

– Any proposed settlement must be provided to the LWDA at the time it is provided to the court.

To make a PAGA claim, the employee must follow the requirements set forth in Labor Code sections 2698 through 2699.5. The LWDA must fail to initiate an investigation within 60 days in order for the employee to bring a PAGA lawsuit in court. If a plaintiff prevails on a PAGA lawsuit, 75% of the judgment goes to the state, with the aggrieved party receiving 25%. The employee can recover attorneys’ fees, as well.

Looking for specific information regarding violations? Check out our article:

How Do PAGA Penalties Apply to Violations of the Paystub Rules under the California Labor Code?

Need more information?
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This article is based on the law as of the date posted at the top of the article. This article does not constitute the provision of legal advice, and does not by itself create an attorney-client relationship with Eskridge Law.