On July 17, 2023, the California Supreme Court decided an important state law issue raised by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, 142 S. Ct. 1906 (2022). Viking River Cruises held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires enforcement of an agreement to arbitrate California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims arising from alleged California Labor Code violations against the named plaintiff, notwithstanding the prior California authority that PAGA claims cannot be “split” into “representative” and “individual” components. In a short paragraph at the end of its decision in Viking River Cruises, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a PAGA plaintiff lacks statutory standing to pursue PAGA claims arising out of alleged Labor Code violations committed against other employees when the claims arising from violations against the named plaintiff have been “pared away” to arbitration. However, because statutory standing is an issue of state law, state courts were not bound by the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation, a point that Justice Sotomayor flagged in a concurrence. In Adolph v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. S274671, 2023 WL 4553702 (2023), the California Supreme Court disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of PAGA’s standing requirement and held that a PAGA plaintiff retains standing to sue for alleged Labor Code violations committed against non-party employees when the claims arising from alleged violations against the plaintiff have been compelled to arbitration.
Kayla Malone is an associate in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office.