Labor exploitation is more prevalent than we think and thus the need for labor laws. PAGA or Private Attorney Generals Act is a set of California Labor Codes that holds employers accountable for Labor Code violations. The law was passed to address the exploitation of employees.
What does PAGA mean
A legal remedy for all members
Under the law, the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 means that all employees in California – a group of plaintiffs with similar claims such as fraud, can sue, Liability is then determined by a judge who approves a legal remedy for all the group members. These employment class actions most times involve legal issues regarding the likes of fraud, unpaid wages and grievances about tea breaks.
Members can opt-out of class actions but they retain the right to file an individual lawsuit. A member who does not do anything will be bound by any decision taken in the lawsuit.
The law rewards employees for bringing these lawsuits, by giving them a percentage of any recovery of monetary penalties. Aggrieved employees keep 25% of whatever the representative plaintiff gets while the other 75% goes to the state’s coffers.
Cases by those working in restaurants, offices, hotels and every job imaginable have been brought under the Private Attorneys General Act statute with some satisfactory results.
An employee can file a PAGA lawsuit for a number of different labor violations. This can be because of an employer failing to pay workers within a certain time, whistleblower retaliation, threatening to report someone’s immigration status, failing to pay employees on strike and other violations.
Enforcement actions that work
These recoveries are because of enforcement actions against those employers who take advantage of- and benefit from employees. In many cases, plaintiffs report that the sued employer is now complying with the rules of the organization.
When employees report a labor law violation by their employer, they can opt to do so under the Private Attorney General Act, a special code allowing employees to sue on behalf of the state and collect a certain amount of legal damages. So in effect, the law is allowing the employees to act like state regulators so as to recover civil penalties and to also get part of the amount recovered as compensation.
Work with an employment law attorney
These cases can take years to build and file, and it is always better to work with an experienced employment law attorney as opposed to filing a lawsuit on your own. PAGA allows employees to ensure their employer corrects the labor violations or pays restitution to the workers they harmed. The employer that goes on refusing to rectify the problem will be penalized.