On December 27th 2016 I received a phone call from our attorney that frankly has changed my life and my views on government and business forever.

I was told we were being sued by a disgruntled employee who is also on a workers compensation claim for wage and hour violations. Our attorney said this lawsuit would be very expensive and that I should count on spending at least $ 200,000 in attorney’s fees alone, and that is just for our lawyers.

Currently I am President of Timely Industries, a steel door frame manufacturer in Pacoima, California. We have over 190 employees with the average length of employment at 22 years and some workers at the 36 year plus mark.  The employees at Timely are comprised of 52 immediate and 26 extended family members. We consider ourselves one big family.  We provide all Timely employees with good health insurance, matching 401K, and a very flexible work schedule.  Our company has 100% US Made material in everything we produce and we have been in business in California since 1971.

So what leads to our troubles with PAGA?

I had no idea what the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) was, and I wondered what we could have possibly done wrong when it comes to our employees.  As I spent time researching PAGA law I soon realized that this lawsuit could potentially cost the company millions of dollars. From what I understand, PAGA was originally designed to protect the employee; but unfortunately the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction and these days many ambulance-chasing attorneys open unfair litigation against good companies in California chasing that easy dollar.

Some of our employees had asked to take their lunch at 11:10, and as a result some missed the mandatory 5 hour window and some did not.  Our decision to accommodate our employees’ requests like asking for flexible starting times and end times put Timely at risk of losing millions of dollars.  As a result of the PAGA lawsuit we have removed the offer of a flexible schedule so now, some family members cannot eat lunch together any longer or friends that have eaten lunch together for 20 plus years are now separated.

What right does the state of California have to tell us when to take our lunch and how to manage family schedule needs while at work?

Every employee always gets their breaks; on hot days their afternoon breaks times were extended with water and ice cream was provided. If the factory employees told me they wanted lunch at 10:00 or 10:30, whatever would make them happy, it would have been arranged. We have employees who come in early and then go to school after work and employees who are parents that want to come in early so they can be home as their children arrive home from school who are now eating lunch at 8:50 am. I would venture to say not one of the lawmakers who wrote such a law or the attorneys who are suing us has their lunch at 8:50 a.m.

My mission is to spread the word to every company I meet or know of. We have created a website www.pagascam.com so everyone can see samples of actual cases and see the atrocities the attorneys are doing to California businesses. I want this website to be a place everyone can share their stories; where visitors can learn all about PAGA law in California. I want our lawmakers, our politicians, our citizens, employees up and down the coast to see this site.

In the end it is the attorneys that are the only ones making the large money on this scheme, and the employee is the one who gets hurt the most.

I want to fight the misuse of PAGA law in California and will not give up until we see real reform to the 1,032 page California Labor Law Digest.

The California Business Industrial Alliance (CABIA) is hosting a conference on Tuesday, May 30 to discuss the scourge of PAGA along with other issues important to small business. Among the speakers will be former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, Irvine Mayor Don Wagner and National Federation of Independent Business/CA executive director Tom Scott.

The event runs from Noon to 5 p.m. at the Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland, Los Angeles County.