Labor and Employment Law

Ca. Labor & Emp't Rev. July 2019, Volume 33, No. 4

Employer Perspective: PAGA 15 Years Later

By Laura Reathaford

Laura Reathaford has defended employers in over 100 wage and hour class and PAGA actions. She frequently contributes to important PAGA legal developments at the trial and appellate levels, including the submission of two recent amicus curie briefs pending in Kim v. Reins and Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC. Laura is currently a partner in the employment group in the Los Angeles office of Blank Rome, LLP.

This year marks 15 years since the California Legislature enacted the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004,1 or what is commonly referred to as "PAGA." PAGA allows an individual to collect civil penalties on behalf of the State of California for purported Labor Code violations experienced by him or herself and other employees (on a representative basis). Since PAGA’s enactment, courts have considered constitutionality, removability, manageability, arbitrability, and the proper scope of discovery, among other litigation issues.

In 2009, the California Supreme Court in Arias v. Superior Court2 held that class certification requirements do not apply to PAGA representative actions—even though PAGA bears many similarities to class actions. In 2012, the Court in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC3 held that individual arbitration agreements with class action waivers cannot be enforced against employees who filed representative PAGA claims.

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