The path to reform of PAGA has been tortuous and seemingly out of reach for employers in California. Bills have been introduced in the Legislature, only to languish for lack of votes to hear, let alone pass, the modest reform measures. Just weeks ago, 3 ballot initiatives that made major changes to PAGA were pulled back from consideration.

If you are not familiar with PAGA, it is a law that authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations. We are talking about any violation of any provision of the California Labor Code, which comprises 1060 pages. In 2004, the State of California gave your employees and their would-be attorneys this enormous power, although it took them and the rest of the legal community a little while to figure out this awesome gift. The law, entitled the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) allows employees to step into the shoes of an enforcement agency like the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and recover civil penalties on behalf of the California Labor Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”) for aggrieved employees and their coworkers.

In the last year alone more than 7,000 of these types of lawsuits have been filed, and can be filed over the most niggling of violations, including late lunches, taking a lunch past 5 hours of start time, even by just a few minutes. Others involve mis-classification of employees like the recent UBER case, in which each driver received $1.08 in settlement. This is not a typographical error. Yet, the attorneys in the case received almost 2.5 million dollars. PAGA was designed to protect the employee but to employers, it looks like it is the Private Attorneys Enrichment Act of 2004.

The California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) was formed specifically for the purpose of enacting meaningful reform of PAGA and related labor laws. CABIA is going to make a difference and we are confident that we will reform PAGA in 2018. We think the time has come to start making Labor laws easier to comply with and more realistic. Employers cannot keep up with all of these laws to begin with – especially the new laws. Please join our cause and movement.