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Important Things To Know Before Filing A PAGA Claim In California

Important Things To Know Before Filing A PAGA Claim In California

The California PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act) was created in 2004 when the state of California lacked the means to pursue businesses that broke the state’s labor rules. The act was passed in reaction to an increasing number of employers openly underpaying their workers and failing to provide them with fair salaries. 

California’s wage and hour rules can be enforced in the state thanks to a variety of strong laws that have been passed. But sadly, several employees in the state are restricted from bringing class-action lawsuits involving their employers since the businesses they work for compel them to sign agreements that require them to arbitrate disputes.

In California, PAGA may be the single most significant law for defending employees’ right to fair compensation. When employers fail to pay these workers what they are owed, PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act) is the only legal remedy available to them. 

Mentioned below are some crucial details about this significant act that every employee and employer should be aware of. 

Labor Code Violations for PAGA Claims

Under PAGA, plaintiffs may file claims for any of the following California Labor Code violations:

  • Reimbursement
  • Adequate seating
  • Working hours
  • Proper meals and breaks
  • Safety at work
  • Misclassification of employees
  • Faulty wage declarations

How to file a PAGA lawsuit?

Starting a PAGA lawsuit involves several steps:

  • All information proving the employer’s alleged violations of the wage order or labour code must be included in the employee’s claim(s).
  • The employee must submit a written notification of the claim(s) to the employer by certified mail as well as to the LWDA (Labor and Workforce Development Agency) of California by submitting an online form. 
  • The LWDA must then inform the employee of its intention to investigate within 65 days of the notice’s postmark date. 
  • The employee may initiate a PAGA lawsuit to seek redress for themselves or their colleagues if the LWDA fails to send that notification within the specified period of time.

The capacity of an employee to bring a PAGA case may be hindered by a failure to comply with these procedural standards.

Time limitations for submitting a PAGA claim

A PAGA claim generally has a one-year limitation period. You can determine all the pertinent deadlines with the aid of an experienced attorney. But in summary, your rights don’t last forever, so it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer straight away since, if you pass the statutory limitation period, you become ineligible for any type of recovery.

Obtaining Civil Penalties

Employees who submit PAGA claims only receive civil penalties, not lost earnings, unlike those who file wage and hour cases against their employers. The state of California receives 75% of the civil fines that are recovered, while the aggrieved employee gets the remaining 25%, which is distributed among all other employees affected by the labor code infractions.

The penalties can be severe for employers who break California’s labor laws. Initial offenses are punishable by a civil penalty of $100 per worker every pay period. If there is another violation, the civil fine is increased to $200 per worker per pay period.

What should employers do to avoid PAGA lawsuits?

Ensuring that the organization is fully compliant with the Labor Code is probably the best approach for employers to avoid being sued for labor code violations that are pursued through a PAGA lawsuit. However, this is not a simple task given the difficulties in comprehending and applying the Labor Code and the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage orders to a specific employer’s operations. 

A lot of employers think they are fully compliant. However, the Labor Code has tens of thousands of rules, which can now prove to be a costly trap for negligent employers. The list appears to be expanding since the Labor Code includes clauses from other codes.

Employers should actively seek out potential grounds for accusations of non-financial labour code violations in advance. Those problems need to be fixed as soon as they are discovered.

Conclusion

Since the statute’s passage, PAGA claims have played a crucial role in the implementation of California’s labor laws. If you think you have a case for filing a PAGA claim, working with an experienced attorney will help you get the support and reimbursement you deserve.

About the author

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Mike K. Watson

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