Private Attorney General Act (PAGA)
Attorneys Fighting for Employee Rights in California
Whenever a group of employees reports a violation of labor law by their employer, they can decide to do so under what is known as the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA). This is a special code that allows employees to sue on behalf of the state rather than as a private class and to collect a percentage of legal damages as stated in the California Labor Code 2699. Because these cases can take years to build and successfully file, the Los Angeles Private Attorney General Act attorneys at Frontier recommend that you work with an experienced employment law attorney rather than file a lawsuit on your own.
Employees have always had the authority to bring a case against their employer for violations of the Labor Code. Usually, the employee would only do so if he or she had really been damaged, i.e. if he/she could prove that they were underpaid.
PAGA has done something different; it has granted employees the governmental authority to assess penalties against businesses for violations of the Labor Code. PAGA authorizes monetary fines for any violation of the Labor Code and gives the right to impose such fines on its own behalf and on behalf of other employees of the company.
PAGA also allows the “aggrieved employee” to recover their legal fees from the employer.
When to File a Lawsuit under PAGA
It is frustrating to report a violation of wages or labor, and to have it fall to deaf ears. PAGA helps employees to come together as a collective to ensure that their employer is either forced to correct workplace abuses or to pay restitution to staff who have been harmed in the process. PAGA allows for penalties to be assessed on each pay period with the severity, so if the employer has repeatedly failed to address the issue, they will be p
You can file a PAGA lawsuit for many different labor violations, including:
- Terminating an employee for lawful off-duty conduct
- Failing to furnish a pay statement
- Whistleblower retaliation
- Threatening to report someone’s citizenship or immigration status
- Unfair immigration-related hiring practices, such as requesting extra documents to prove work authorization
- Failing to pay workers no later than seven days after then end of a payroll period, including after termination or resignation
- Failing to pay employees on strike
- Payment with anything but actual wages
- Withholding wages to regain overpayments made by the employer
- Charging employees for accounting and check issuance fees
- Coercing employees to patronize their employer
- Failing to offer meal breaks
- Withholding workers’ compensation by arguing that the employee assumed the risks by working there
Our cutting-edge approach to law lets us quickly access the laws that apply to you so that we can immediately start working to help you create a successful case. Most of our clients are not aware if their boss has broken any laws—only that something feels wrong at work. Let our PAGA lawyers help you set up a case and keep your boss responsible.
Fighting for Damage Compensation
Before you file a PAGA notice and give it to your employer, your employment lawyer is likely to request information from them. This means that the company will know that legal action is pending against them, and they are likely to pursue counter-measures to prevent losing a lawsuit. The defendant company is likely to object to your assertion that an investigation should be undertaken into their employment practices, so that you are prepared to provide concrete proof of your allegations.
Before filing a lawsuit you should:
- Gather all necessary evidence, including pay statements as well as your own documented clock-in times and any claims made by your employer about how you will be paid
- Show why punitive damages are warranted
- Check for any time off work—such as disability or maternal leave—that could allow your employer to argue that you did not suffer grievances due to their unlawful practices
- Avoid posting about your case on social media as this can be used against you by your employer
- Enlist the help of an attorney as soon as possible
Unlawful employers make life more complicated for many people beyond you. In a professionally conducted lawsuit, you will keep them responsible for their unfair practices and ensure the abuses end as soon as possible.
Representing Employees in California
Potter Handy, LLP has been litigating cases since 1996. Providing legal service statewide in California.