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California PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act)

Discussion in 'Legal and Government Actions Involving Scientology' started by TheOriginalBigBlue, Jun 4, 2017.

  1. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    It seems the legal landscape for California employer/employee relations changed significantly in 2016. As I understand this, if the Church were to lose it’s tax exempt status and employees fell under regular Labor Code then any employee could sue the Church on behalf of themselves AND every other employee. Ouch!

    PAGA is the California law that stands for the Private Attorney General Act. It allows private citizens to sue companies for labor code violations – the kinds of suits normally filed by attorneys general and off-limits to the public.
    So why are PAGA payouts so big? Because of the liberal way California racks ups fines. A violation can be $100 for each employee per pay period for the first violation and then $200 for subsequent violations. If you multiply several violations times numerous employees times numerous pay periods times several years, well, you’ll need a really long check to fit all the zeroes.
    Now, an actual attorney general might cite the big number – say, $29 million – as a threat to the business but negotiate it way down to, say, $20,000 for a smaller company or maybe $200,000 for a bigger company. Regardless of the final figure, the attorney general is not incentivized to kill the business; he doesn’t want to answer uncomfortable questions about why his actions caused so many layoffs. The attorney general is trying to make a point and assess a fine and put out a self-congratulatory press release.
    But those who bring suit under PAGA have completely different incentives. They want the fine as big as it can be, the company be damned. For one thing, they may be motivated by anger and revenge more than anything. For another, consider this: Under PAGA, the state gets 75 percent of the payout, and the remaining 25 percent gets spread among the lawyers and the individual employees – not just those who press the complaint. That means the aggrieved employees stand to get a piddling payout, unless they shoot for a really big number.
    This is yet another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. When PAGA was passed, it apparently was assumed that the 75 percent-payout-to-the-state rule might dampen the desire of aggrieved employees to bring frivolous PAGA claims. Instead, it has incentivized them to push the payouts as high as they can go.

    Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA)
    The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) 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.
    Those who intend to pursue PAGA cases must follow the requirements specified in Labor Code Sections 2698 - 2699.5.
    SB 836, which became effective on June 27, 2016, made important changes in PAGA requirements. Except as otherwise noted, these requirements apply prospectively to all pending PAGA cases as well as new filings.
  2. RogerB

    RogerB Crusader

    Nice one TheOriginalBigBlue

    This also has application at a Federal Level . . . . certainly so in the context of Civil Rights Violations.

    Wiki does a big number on this . . .

    A snipped quote:

    Examples of application[edit]

    Many civil rights statutes rely on private attorneys general for their enforcement. In Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises,[SUP][3][/SUP] one of the earliest cases construing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the United States Supreme Court ruled that "A public accommodations suit is thus private in form only. When a plaintiff brings an action . . . he cannot recover damages. If he obtains an injunction, he does so not for himself alone but also as a 'private attorney general,' vindicating a policy that Congress considered of the highest priority." The United States Congress has also passed laws with "private attorney general" provisions that provide for the enforcement of laws prohibiting employment discrimination, police brutality, and water pollution. Under the Clean Water Act, for example, "any citizen" may bring suit against an individual or a company that is a source of water pollution.[SUP][citation needed]


    Another example of the "private attorney general" provisions is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO allows average citizens (private attorneys general) to sue those organizations that commit mail and wire fraud as part of their criminal enterprise.[SUP][citation needed][/SUP] To date, there are over 60 federal statutes[SUP][citation needed][/SUP] that encourage private enforcement by allowing prevailing plaintiffs to collect attorney's fees.

    Attorneys who function as a private attorney general do so without compensation. The statutes permitting a plaintiff to recover attorneys' fees have been held not to apply when the plaintiff is an attorney.

    While there is such a thing as a private attorney general act, it should be stated that there is no such thing as a private non-attorney citizen being a "private attorney general" for all purposes. The term applies only to the exercise of one's ability to pursue certain specific kinds of legal actions which are statutorily authorized. It does not create the ability to call one's self a "private attorney general".

    Snipped . . .
  3. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    PAGA is one situation where the Church's strategy of creating each organization as legally separate from others, especially in terms of employment, benefits them. The more organizations are broken down to minimize the number of employees per org or unit the less risk exposure from something like this. They have been consolidating Day and Foundation orgs, probably for lack of revenue and recruitment, but if they became subject to PAGA then it would make sense to split them up. I would even expect regular businesses to adopt this strategy.
  4. dchoiceisalwaysrs

    dchoiceisalwaysrs Gold Meritorious Patron

    I am pleased that the legal rights of individuals have had some assistance by the removal of the previous restriction.

    Although in a completely different jurisdiction I studied the labor codes when I had been short changed by an employer. I compiled the relevant data, quoted the appropriate clauses and added in my calculations and filed with the Labor Board.
    The case was therefore quickly accepted, court held by a judge who asked me for a bit of explanation on a couple of items, then went on to through astute questioning exposed the bullshit proffered by the employer and awarded me my just compensation.
    I didn't sleep the night before the hearing but dam it was actually so easy and I never used any legal assistance at all.
    It was very nice to see the judge admonish the white collar criminal right there in the same room and see him turn beet red.

    It also probably stopped a number of other future employees from being ripped of with the claim.."uhh I don't really know why your pay has discrepancies like that."
  5. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    I have mixed feelings about PAGA. It is important that individuals have effective recourse to address employer injustices but time will tell if this is just another straw breaking the back of small employers in California. Large corporations may actually support PAGA if it gives them an advantage or greater market share because they have the resources to deal with it.

    However, if Scientology ever fell under PAGA I expect it would be an infinite source of potential PAGA claims. I don't think they would change their behavior. They would probably try to construct contracts that strip employee rights to use PAGA.