What Is PAGA and How Can It Help Employees Seek Justice?

Clearly understanding what is PAGA is important for employees in California as it can help them seek justice by suing companies who breach the California Labor Code. The PAGA act, which was passed in 2004 to aid the enforcement of California labor law provisions, enables workers to bring legal action on behalf of associations of workers. Employees who are aggrieved may seek civil fines on their behalf, on behalf of other employees, or on behalf of the state.

In essence, it enables employees to act as enforcement bodies like the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and obtain civil penalties for aggrieved employees and their coworkers on behalf of the California LWDA (Labor Workforce Development Agency).

The three forms of labor law violations that give way to a PAGA claim are:

  • Violations of the California Labor Code, particularly those mentioned in the PAGA statute,
  • Violations of the state’s health and safety rules
  • Any other infraction of California’s labor laws

A PAGA claim may be made by any worker who has been affected by one of these infractions.

How Does PAGA Help Employees in California?

There is no question that workers nationwide desire the PAGA or a law of a similar nature in their state. It allows employees to feel relieved on a group-wide basis. Here are some of the ways in which PAGA benefits employees in California.

  • Employees are frequently asked to sign away their right to sue an employer or enter a class action lawsuit against them by consenting to arbitrate disputes as part of employment contracts in California. These waivers are not taken into account when an employee makes a PAGA claim. Thus, employees can obtain the representation they need through PAGA claims in order to make sure their workplace conforms with applicable labour regulations.
  • PAGA’s primary objectives are to uphold state labor regulations and safeguard employees’ rights. It also enables employees to demand financial penalties. Employers who are held responsible for violations are required to pay $100 to every employee per pay period for the first violation and $200 to every employee per pay period for each successive violation. Therefore, PAGA cases can result in significant awards to assist employees in receiving just compensation.

For example, a federal judge in California sentenced Wal-Mart to pay $102 million for violating California’s wage-statement laws. Additionally, a San Diego superior court judge found Alaska Airlines accountable for $25 million in wage-payment calculation irregularities in 2019.

  • The fact that a PAGA case doesn’t have the same rigorous standards as a class action lawsuit is one of its key advantages. Future employees of an organization will also benefit from it since employers will feel tremendous pressure to stop violating California’s worker protection regulations.
  • In addition to giving workers the chance to pursue financial compensation for damages caused by labor violations, PAGA also gives them the chance to pursue justice, which may very likely lead to long-term positive changes in California’s workplaces. Nearly all businesses and enterprises subject to PAGA litigation modify their unethical and unlawful behaviour in order to avoid having to deal with these consequences again. All employees will profit from these improvements, not just those who are currently employed but also those who will work there in the future.
  • PAGA handles a variety of common employment law breaches, including the minimum wage, skipped meals and break times, unpaid overtime, worker categorization, unreimbursed expenses, and inaccurate pay rates. The PAGA’s detractors say it’s merely a means for lawyers to make money, but they fail to mention that it also brings in cash for the state and, most crucially, employees who have been refused fair wages. Everybody benefits from PAGA, and vulnerable workers are given protection. Thanks to PAGA, California’s economy has gotten stronger and more prosperous over the past year.

Conclusion

The PAGA laws are definitely confusing. The attorneys representing your employer are fully aware of the consequences that these rules have, and when they encounter a worker without legal representation, they will use this as a chance to their advantage.

There are challenges unique to each scenario. You might not take the “correct” actions to safeguard your legal rights if you do not have complete knowledge of PAGA laws and how they relate to your particular case. So, you’d need the counsel of a knowledgeable, successful PAGA attorney who is capable of intimidating the legal representatives of your employers.

You can contact California labor law attorneys if you believe that your rights as a worker have been infringed under the California Labor Code. They can evaluate your losses and identify every infringement the corporation committed in order to maximize the reimbursement you, the other workers, and the state receive.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan