Private Attorneys General Act

PAGA, otherwise known as the infamous California “Private Attorneys General Act”, has been the Employment & Labor lawyers “water cooler” topic for some time.  PAGA cases are where one employee sues on behalf of other “aggrieved employees” that also work or worked for the same employer.  Such complaints seek to recover civil penalties for alleged Labor Code violations against the employer due to failure to follow the California Labor Code. 

Plaintiff (employee) attorneys are adding on these claims to collect big attorney’s fees.  They are definitely not going to the Plaintiff.  In these PAGA cases only 25% of any penalties collected at the end of a case or via informal resolution, go to the Plaintiff – who shares it with all the other “aggrieved employees”.  Of course, that is after costs, attorney fees and other expenses are deducted from the award.  And after 75% of the award goes to the State of California.

The Defense bar (employer attorneys like Chauvel & Glatt) are trying to create awareness around these PAGA cases.  Employees are usually not aware that they could recover more financially, if they just addressed their individual claims on an individual basis.  Yet, the cases keep getting filed because the Plaintiff attorneys rake in the attorney fees regardless of how small the violation may be, if at all, and how small your business may be.   No doubt, these cases can be very expensive.

One of the most recent PAGA cases filed includes the Los Angeles Breakers FC Youth Soccer Club.  The Plaintiff, Bryan Gonzalez, filed a PAGA case recently claiming that the soccer club misclassifies its coaches as independent contractors to avoid paying overtime, along with other labor code violations.  The complaint alleges, amongst other things, that the club misclassified coaches and such classification is “willful and done in order to deprive the coaches of benefits due them, and to gain an economic advantage, with the full knowledge that the law requires the coaches to be classified as employees.”

I wonder if the Plaintiffs know that these PAGA cases will not provide them the full economic gain they think it will?  If you are a business that received a letter addressed to the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency, a prerequisite to a PAGA lawsuit, or if you were served with a complaint against your company alleging PAGA claims, don’t wait, call our employment attorneys here at Chauvel & Glatt to discuss how best to defend your case. 

This material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute legal advice.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact  Chauvel & Glatt at 650-881-2476 for legal assistance near you. (photo credit: depositphotos.com).

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