One of the seminal cases in the world of California’s Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, is Iskanian v. CLS Transportation.  Iskanian wound its way up to the California Supreme Court, which ultimately held that arbitration agreements that attempt to limit a plaintiff’s right to bring PAGA actions are unenforceable.

Now Iskanian is back in the news.  After years of struggle, the plaintiff, Mr. Iskanian, decided that he did not want to proceed with the case.  (It is unclear why he reached that decision.)  In an interesting twist, he then filed a motion, representing himself, to dismiss his individual claims (which were being arbitrated) as well as his PAGA claims.  His attorneys then sought to replace him with Mr. Frost, another individual from the group of limousine drivers that Mr. Iskanian belonged to.   Continue reading

California employers require many employees to stand all day, despite the fact that they could provide seats if they wanted to.  This practice is common in the retail industry, among others.  But is it legal?

For certain employees, under certain circumstances, the answer is no.  Many of the California wage orders contain language requiring that “[a]ll working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.”  They also provide that “[w]hen employees are not engaged in the active duties of their employment and the nature of the work requires standing, an adequate number of suitable seats shall be placed in reasonable proximity to the work area and employees shall be permitted to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.”

When an employer fails to meet either of these requirements, it may be subject to penalties under California’s Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”).  Although the wage orders themselves do not provide for penalties for violating seating requirements, California Labor Code section 1198 prohibits employers from violating the wage orders.  PAGA permits employees to bring claims for civil penalties based upon violations of the Labor Code.  Therefore, employees can bring PAGA claims for failure to provide suitable seating in violation of the wage orders. Continue reading

The Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (Labor Code[1] §§ 2698-2699.5) (“PAGA”) was enacted in 2004 in order to allow employees to bring representative actions to recover civil penalties for violations of the Labor Code.  Once an afterthought, in recent years PAGA claims have become increasingly popular.[2]  As the number of PAGA claims has grown, the PAGA landscape has become ever more hotly contested.

This post is part of a series of posts exploring recent development in PAGA jurisprudence.  It focuses on  PAGA’s exhaustion requirements. Continue reading

This month in an unpublished opinion in Green v. Bank of America, No. 13-56023 (9th Cir. Oct. 13, 2015), the Ninth Circuit clarified the standard for exhaustion of administrative remedies under the California Private Attorneys’ General Act (PAGA). The plaintiffs are now petitioning the court to have this decision published, so that the PAGA notice standard becomes the law of the Circuit. Continue reading

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently clarified two critical issues that pertain to claims brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), Cal. Lab. Code § 2698 et seq..  Each of these decisions is helpful to workers seeking to recover civil penalties under PAGA.

First, in Yocupicio v. PAE Grp., LLC, 795 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2015), the Court held that PAGA penalties may not be counted when calculating damages for the purpose of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).  Under CAFA, when certain other requirements are met, a class action that is filed in state court can be removed to federal court if the defendants can show that the damages at issue are worth more than $5 million.  (In very general terms, most plaintiffs want to be in state court because state courts are perceived as being more favorable to class actions than federal court.) Continue reading

Workers in California have a powerful tool for combating wage and hour violations:  the Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA, California Labor Code section 2698, et seq.  PAGA allows workers to bring civil cases seeking penalties that otherwise would be available only to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

PAGA cases are almost always filed in state court.  Employers seeking to defeat PAGA actions have increasingly been attempting to remove them to federal court.  This is because federal judges are generally viewed as more pro-employer on the issues that arise in PAGA cases than state court judges.  In other words, employers believe that they are more likely to win in PAGA actions if they are in federal court.

However, in another win for plaintiffs who seek to bring PAGA actions, the Ninth Circuit recently held that PAGA claims are not class actions.  Thus, they are not subject to the Class Action Fairness Act, or CAFA. Continue reading

In recent years, the United States Supreme Court has done its level best to derail class actions.  In decision after decision the Court has curtailed the ability of regular people to join together to challenge the actions of corporations and other entities.  The more cynical among us might see this as a pattern whereby the Court is going out of its way to grant new rights to the powerful and wealthy interests in our society.  (See, for example, the recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, in which the Court greatly expanded the ability of wealthy individuals to contribute to campaign funds-and thereby disproportionately  influence elections.)

The Court’s attack on class actions has dramatically affected workers seeking to enforce their rights under federal and state labor laws.  Many workers who have sought to represent groups of employees in court have been (1) prevented from representing other workers (by way of a class action waiver that they were forced to sign in order to get the job), and (2) forced into arbitration where they are denied the right to present their case to a jury of their peers.

Workers in California are fortunate in that they have another resource to rely upon in the event that they are unable to bring a class action.  California’s Private Attorneys General Act (also known as “PAGA”) was enacted in 2004 because the California Labor & Workplace Development Agency (LWDA) did not have enough attorneys or staff to enforce  the California Labor Code.  The goal at that time was to allow workers-particularly low wage agricultural workers-to file representative actions on behalf of themselves and their co-workers.  (California Rural Legal Assistance, an incredible organization that represents farm workers, led the fight enact PAGA.) Continue reading

The California Supreme Court heard oral argument on April 3, 2014, in a case that is  likely to significantly shape the landscape of class actions in both state and federal court:  Iskanian v. CLS Transportation, No. S204032.  The Supreme Court granted review in Iskanian to resolve two important questions: Continue reading