Under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), an “aggrieved employee” may bring a representative action on behalf of him or herself and other “aggrieved employees” for civil penalties for various violations of the California Labor Code. (Labor Code §§2698, et seq.) PAGA cases have become increasingly more frequent for various reasons, including the fact that PAGA claims cannot currently be compelled to arbitration.
Several business organizations joined together in October 2021 to file a proposed proposition with the California Attorney General entitled “Californians For Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act”, which seeks to repeal PAGA. California’s Secretary of State recently approved the circulation of the PAGA reform petition for signatures. Supporters of the initiative have until June 6, 2022, to collect at least 623, 212 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2022 general election. Assuming all required signatures are valid, the Proposition would be voted upon by the general public in November 2022.
If approved by California voters, the Proposition would repeal PAGA and eliminate the Labor Commissioner’s authority to contract with private organizations or attorneys to assist with enforcement actions. Instead, the proposition proposes that the California Legislature provide funding for the Labor Commissioner to enforce Labor Code violations. Moreover, the California Labor Commissioner would be required to provide pre-enforcement advice and allow employers to cure alleged violations without penalties. However, the petition also proposes increased penalties for willful violations of the Labor Code.
Jackson Lewis continues to track legislation and changes in California employment law affecting employers. If you have questions about the proposed reforms to PAGA or related issues, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.