California has collected $31 million under the Private Attorneys General Act

California has collected $31 million under the Private Attorneys General Act

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By Christian Schreiber

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 like the Xarelto® Lawsuits | Get Information About The 2017 Settlements, – 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.

Christian Schreiber

About Christian Schreiber

Christian Schreiber is a partner at Chavez & Gertler, where he works primarily on class actions involving employment and consumer rights, civil rights, and financial services matters.

If you’ve ever wondered how much California has received from PAGA settlements…wonder no more! 1

If you’ve ever wondered how much California has received from PAGA settlements…wonder no more!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The California Supreme Court’s June decision in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation has thrust the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) back into the foreground of wage-and-hour class actions.  The court held that despite a murderers’ row of anti-consumer, anti-employee/pro-business, pro-forced-arbitration decisions by the United States Supreme Court, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) does not preempt California law that prohibits waiver of PAGA claims.  In other words, PAGA lawsuits can still be brought on behalf of large groups of workers, despite the fact that they have signed a class action waiver.

PAGA was passed in 2004 in the face of blistering opposition from the Chamber of Commerce, which spun the legislation as the “sue your boss bill.”  Before suing your boss, however, PAGA requires a plaintiff to exhaust administrative remedies by notifying the employer of the alleged violations of the Labor Code.  Notably, PAGA also mandates that 75% of any recovery of penalties goes back into the state’s coffers through the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA).  Essentially, PAGA deputizes private attorneys to collect the state’s money for it from employers that have violated the law.

In the years immediately following the bill’s passage, many lawyers did not even allege PAGA claims and questioned the value of adding them to their case.  Government involvement in the case might be complicated, especially for just a 25% share of the recovery.  Much has changed in the ten years since the bill’s enactment.  With class claims vanishing, PAGA claims may well provide the most potent (or only) leverage for workers pursing impact litigation.

With a decade of experience behind us, perhaps it’s time we begin studying PAGA’s impact.  To this end, I sent a Public Records Act request to the LWDA for information about PAGA payments made to the State.  What came back was interesting.

Through April 2013, the LWDA had collected $24,532,690.57 in PAGA penalties from 1,255 cases.  The payments range from small ($4.15) to large ($614,280).

I’m certain there are others out there with the skill and inclination to analyze this data in ways I have not imagined, and my hope is that this will begin a meaningful dialogue about PAGA and its future.

Next week I will post the updated numbers I have received from April 2013-August 2014.

Christian Schreiber

About Christian Schreiber

Christian Schreiber is a partner at Chavez & Gertler, where he works primarily on class actions involving employment and consumer rights, civil rights, and financial services matters.

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