The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes workers to file claims against their employers for violations of the Labor Code.
Multiple failures to enforce labor code violations prompted the creation of PAGA in 2004. Under California law, PAGA permits employees to act as private attorneys general and pursue civil penalties as if they were a state agency.
Even if you are an employee that has signed an employment agreement directing any disputes with your employer to arbitration, this does not prevent you from filing a PAGA claim to assert your rights.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for PAGA Claims?
The PAGA claim statute of limitations is one year from the date of the last Labor Code violation. There is a 65-day period in which the Labor and Workforce Development Agency may consider an intervention. This 65-day period stays the statute of limitations. Workers also have a period of 60 days to amend their initial claim regardless of whether the statute of limitations has expired by the time of the amendment.
You can expect that a court will dismiss your claim if you file it outside of this statute of limitations period, so it is crucial that you act quickly to organize and file your claim promptly.
How Do You File a PAGA Claim?
A PAGA claim filed with the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency must include specific information. A PAGA claim should include the following information:
- Basic facts of what happened;
- Specific information regarding the violation of California labor laws; and
- A complete list of aggrieved employees.
Any additional information supporting these facts will strengthen your claim against your employer. Filing the PAGA claim puts the employer on notice of the claim and the violations asserted. At this time, the Labor Workforce Development Agency may investigate the claim and decide whether to take the case.
If the Labor Workforce Development Agency chooses not to pursue the matter, the employee may choose to pursue the claim independently.
How Do You Calculate PAGA Damages?
Calculation of PAGA penalties is based on each employee and each Labor Code violation on a per-pay-period basis. PAGA provides for a default penalty of $100 for initial violations and $200 for subsequent violations unless the Labor Code specifically provides for a different penalty.
What Is a PAGA Settlement?
The court must approve any PAGA settlement regardless of whether the settlement includes an award of PAGA penalties. The Labor Workforce Development Agency receives copies of any proposed settlement at the same time it is submitted to the court.
PAGA claims are a growing area in the enforcement of labor laws in California. The process of filing PAGA claims can be complex. The experienced attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group advocate to protect your rights as an employee and hold your employer accountable for violations.
The Workplace Rights Law Group has the knowledge and resources to fight for your rights and pursue a successful PAGA claim against your employer. Contact us today to get started on your case!