California Court Broadens the Scope of PAGA Representative Actions

By SHLC on August 31, 2018 in Uncategorized
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In May 2018, the California Court of Appeal held in Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., that an employee who has been affected by at least one Labor Code violation may pursue penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) for every Labor Code violation committed by that employer, including violations that have not personally affected the employee.

Under the PAGA, an “aggrieved employee” acts as a representative on behalf of the State of California to recover civil penalties for California Labor Code violations committed against current and former employees. Huff expanded the types of Labor Code violations the PAGA representative could bring on behalf of others. Prior to Huff, many attorneys and commentators believed an employee could only recover penalties for those Labor Code violations he or she actually suffered. For instance, if a Plaintiff was not properly paid overtime, he or she could recover penalties for that violation, but not for an unrelated meal period violation that never affected him or her. The court in Huff broadened the representative’s scope to include all Labor Code violations committed by that employer that affected any employee, so long as the representative was affected by at least one of the alleged Labor Code violations. This would allow the Plaintiff in the example above to pursue penalties for both the improper overtime and meal period violations.

Following this decision, California employers likely will be subject to additional PAGA liability as a result of wider exposure to Labor Code violations. Employers should take preventative measures such as reviewing payroll practices and employment policies to ensure they are compliant with the law.

On September 19, 2018, SHLC will be hosting a half-day live and interactive webinar on California Wage and Hour Law, with full question and answer sessions. Among other things, PAGA and the most common Labor Code violations will be discussed during the webinar. To sign up for the webinar call any of our offices or feel free to click on the following link: http://suttonhague.com/events/.

The Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. decision can be found at http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H042852.PDF.