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PAGA Class Actions

PAGA Class ActionsWhen an employer acts against multiple employees in a similar way, class action lawsuits are a useful tool to collectively hold those them responsible. Class actions allow an individual to file a single complaint on behalf of others to allege the same harm. Employers have commonly included arbitration agreement provisions in employment contracts that force employees to waive their rights to be involved in class actions when these types of disputes arise. However, California’s Private Attorney’s General Act of 2004 (or PAGA) allows employees to file a representative lawsuit acting as “private attorney generals,” in lieu of a traditional class action suits, to hold their employers liable for violations of employees’ rights. Orange County employment attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm assist employees in claims that arise under PAGA. We can help you file the appropriate lawsuit to get justice for both you, and others, who have been subject to unfair conditions or improper pay at work. If you believe you have a wage and hour dispute, are being subject to discrimination, or have any other job-related claim, contact the Serendib Law Firm today at 1-800-LAW-8225 (800-529-8825) or online to find out more about how we can help.  

Common Claims Brought Under PAGA

The California Supreme Court has nullified arbitration agreements containing “class action waivers,” numerous times, but the United States Supreme Court has upheld their validity. However, PAGA is a unique California law that allows employees to file claims on behalf of other employees who have suffered the same harm under the California Labor Code. Because the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) has limited resources to investigate all labor violations, PAGA creates an opportunity for affected employees to aid in the effort.  These “private attorney generals” act on behalf of the California Labor Commissioner, which circumvents any agreement to arbitration, as the Commissioner is not a party to those contracts.

Even though PAGA claims often are compared to class actions, different rules apply to each. When filing a PAGA claim an employee must first file a claim with the state regarding the violations being alleged. This claim must detail the employer’s violations of the California Labor Code, California Wage Order, or laws under the California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) authority. The state then has 65 days to respond as to whether it will be doing an independent investigation into the allegations. If the employee does not hear back from the state, they are free to file a PAGA suit. Because of the unique and complex nature of these claims, consulting a seasoned Orange County employment attorney as soon as possible is important to making sure your rights are protected.

Common types of claims that affect a group of employees with recourse pursuant to PAGA include:

·         Unpaid Wages

·         Overtime violations

·         Meal and rest break violations

·         Improper expense reimbursement withholdings

·         Unpaid commission

·         Equal Pay Act claims

Pursuant to the California Labor Code, an aggrieved employee can take legal action against employers that have violated labor laws. "Aggrieved employees" include current and former employees who were affected by the violations.  Employees cannot pursue a claim under PAGA if the LWDA has already brought legal action for the same violations alleged.

Civil penalties imposed in successful PAGA actions depend on how many violations were found. For initial violations, employers must pay $100 per employee per pay period, and subsequent violations carry a penalty of $200 per employee per period. The LWDA receives 75 percent of the awarded penalties while the affected employees split the remainder.

Orange County PAGA Class Action Lawyers

The legal field surrounding PAGA lawsuits can be complex and confusing as there are continuing developments occurring in courts. However, our Orange County employment law attorneys at the Serendib Law Firm stay up-to-date on any changes to make sure our clients have the best chance at succeeding in their claims to receive the compensation they are owed. Our firm represents employees throughout Southern California including Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. Please contact our office today at 1-800-LAW-8225 (800-529-8825) or fill out our contact form. 

Client Reviews
"Integrity, competency, and compassion! Dimuth Amaratunga has represented me and counseled me in several matters over the last several years, and each time, I have benefited tremendously from his knowledge, his wisdom and his empathy. He is without a doubt an authority in employment law and personal injury. But most importantly, he has compassion and truly focused on getting the best result for his clients. I am a practicing attorney and I wholeheartedly recommend him and his firm!" David J.