On March 23, 2022, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District in Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., ruled that courts do not have authority to strike a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) due to a lack of manageability at trial. Estrada creates a split of authority with a pro-employer decision, Wesson v. Staples the Office Superstore, LLC, 68 Cal. App. 5th 746 (2021). The Court in Wesson found that trial courts have inherent authority to dismiss PAGA claims as unmanageable. Wesson was discussed in detail in a prior blog article.

Continue Reading Split of Authority Emerges Regarding Whether Employers Can Dismiss PAGA Lawsuits on Manageability Grounds

On February 7, 2022 a California Court of Appeal issued its decision in Hutcheson v. The Superior Court of Alameda County (UBS Financial Services, Inc.).  The case addresses the relation back doctrine in the context of a Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (the “PAGA”) lawsuit, and will have important consequences for PAGA cases moving forward.
Continue Reading Employers May Face an Expanded Liability Period in PAGA Suits Under the Relation Back Doctrine

On February 18, 2022, the California Court of Appeal issued its decision in Jill LaFace v. Ralphs Grocery Company, __ Cal. App. 5th __ (2022), that provides important guidance in two areas. First, the Court made clear that plaintiffs asserting a claim under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) are not entitled to a jury trial. In addition, the Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling rejecting the plaintiff’s suitable seating claim and found that an employee cannot create a “lull in operation” to trigger the provision of a seat by remaining idle instead of performing other expected job duties.

Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Makes Clear that PAGA Plaintiffs are not Entitled to a Jury Trial and Provides Helpful Guidance on Suitable Seating Claims

On November 30, 2021, the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, issued an important opinion in Moniz v. Adecco USA, Inc., __ Cal. App. 5th __ (2021), which will impact employers facing PAGA lawsuits.  Moniz clarified several critical issues employers routinely face in PAGA litigation.  First, departing from Turrieta v. Lyft, Inc., 69 Cal. App. 5th 955 (2021), Moniz held that a deputized aggrieved employee challenging a PAGA settlement has appellate standing to challenge another PAGA settlement that would wipe out their ability to pursue a PAGA claim.  This may affect all employers facing more than one PAGA lawsuit at a time.  Second, Moniz held that claims are validly released if they relate to the same primary right as the claims listed in the PAGA letter that the aggrieved employee sends to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (the “LWDA”).  Finally, Moniz provided guidelines to assess whether a trial court should approve a PAGA settlement.
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Provides Guidance, and Creates a Split, on Critical PAGA Issues

On September 9, 2021, California’s Court of Appeal issued an important decision in Wesson v. Staples The Office Superstore, LLC (“Wesson”), holding that trial courts have discretion to strike claims brought under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) when a trial of the action would be unmanageable.  Unless the California Supreme Court grants review, Wesson will be binding upon California state courts and federal district courts.

Continue Reading Manageability – a New Weapon to Stave Off Unmanageable PAGA Claims

In Esparza v. KS Industries, L.P., 2017 WL 3276363 (2017), the Fifth District Court of Appeal recently clarified the arbitrability of certain claims brought under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”).  Previously, in Iskanian v. CLS Transp. Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal.4th 348 (2014), the California Supreme Court held that PAGA representative actions for civil penalties are not subject to arbitration (the “Iskanian rule”). This decision led to a spate of actions by plaintiffs who signed valid and enforceable arbitration agreements asserting only PAGA claims, in an attempt to circumvent arbitration. This has been a significant hurdle to many employers, who have been forced to defend PAGA-only actions in civil court, despite the fact that their employees signed valid and enforceable arbitration agreements. Esparza offers a potential carve out to Iskanian that employers should be aware of.
Continue Reading Court Of Appeal Holds That Claims To Recover Wages Under Labor Code Section 558 Brought Through The Private Attorneys General Act May Be Arbitrated

The California Supreme Court issued its long awaited ruling in Williams v. Superior Court, in which it clarified the scope of discovery in actions brought under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, Labor Code § 2698 et seq., also known as PAGA. (Williams v. Superior Court, __ Cal.5th __ (July 13, 2017, S227228) (“Williams”).) At first glance employers may be concerned by the breadth of discovery the California Supreme Court permits under PAGA, however, in reality the case generally reaffirms the status quo by holding that the scope of discovery in PAGA actions is essentially the same as the scope of discovery in class actions. Specifically, the Court holds that as in class actions, the contact information of the individuals a PAGA plaintiff purports to represent is generally discoverable in the same manner as it has been for many years in wage and hour class actions. While trial courts cannot condition disclosure of employee contact information on the plaintiff making a prima facie showing on the merits of his claims, the same defenses that exist in class actions to such discovery also exist in PAGA actions. While the employer has a substantial burden of proof, the California Supreme Court reaffirmed that employers still have defenses based on undue burden and the need to protect employee privacy rights to limit such discovery. With the overall discussion of discovery issues, the Court also makes pronouncements that can be helpful to employers in other aspects of PAGA litigation, such as its statements indicating that a PAGA action must be manageable to proceed to trial.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court Reaffirms Broad Right to Discovery in PAGA Actions

On August 22, 2016, the Ninth Circuit joined the Seventh Circuit in the split amongst U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal on the issue of enforceability of employment arbitration agreements precluding class actions.

The Ninth Circuit, similar to the Seventh Circuit in Lewis v. Epic Sys. Corp., held in 2-1 decision that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it requires employees to sign an agreement precluding them from pursuing, in any forum, wage-and-hour claims against the employer on a collective basis.  To the contrary, the Fifth Circuit has upheld such arbitration agreements in D.R. Horton, Inc. v. NLRB and Murphy Oil USA, Inc. v. NLRB, finding that class action waivers do not violate the NLRA.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Invalidates Arbitration Agreement

Governor Brown recently approved Senate Bill No. 836, which amends the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) in a few minor technical ways, including new filing and notice requirements.  Although employers had hoped for substantive changes following the Governor’s initial budget proposal which expressly acknowledged that “employers are being sued and incurring substantial costs defending against technical or frivolous claims,” the enacted amendments fail to deliver any major gains for employers.  SB 836 amends PAGA in four main ways:
Continue Reading New PAGA Amendments Fail to Substantively Address Employers’ Concerns