Last week, I posted that the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) had collected more than $24 million in penalties from lawsuits brought under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) through April 10, 2013.
Though the data is not quite complete (collection numbers are missing for three-plus months since April 2013), it does show that the LWDA has collected another $6,343,884 in penalties (approximately $488,000/month). Thus, the total number of penalties collected since PAGA was enacted is just shy of $31 million. That works out to an average of about $17,000 for each of the approximately 1,800 cases allocating PAGA penalties to the LWDA.
There are any number of ways to interpret this data. Among the most interesting aspects of the data is the sharp increase in PAGA penalties collected in the last year or so. Almost half (45%) of all of the reported “PAGA cases” since 2004 are paid out from July 2013 to this August, as well as a quarter of all penalties (26%). No doubt this corresponds to an increase in the use of PAGA allegations in wage-and-hour class and collective actions, as practitioners have become more familiar with how to use PAGA in their cases.
Still, many important aspects of the law remain unsettled, and guidance from the Court of Appeal has been sparse. If the trend demonstrated by this data continues, however, the courts will not remain on the sidelines for very much longer.