The United States of America was found on a system of checks and balances. The most recent addition to this system of checks and balances is The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). PAGA was passed by the Legislature in order to oversee California employers at no cost to the state. Under PAGA, private citizens can prosecute labor code violations. In fact, PAGA prosecutions don’t only cost the state nothing, but they benefit the state financially and reduce the citizens’ tax burden because 75% of all funds collected go directly to the state of California.
PAGA prosecutions have already brought hundreds of millions of dollars to California. It has also resulted in California laying claiming to one of the most thorough levels of labor law enforcement in the nation. This means California employers are well aware that they can’t cheat to compete without serious risks involved.
The PAGA paradigm generates an additional benefit for California in the form of an exceptional employment bar (representing employers and workers) that commands compliance with state labor laws under serious threat of prosecution for non-compliance under PAGA. In order to comply with employment law, employers must conduct a balancing act with fear and greed. Under PAGA, the fear of enforcement is enhanced, therefore reducing the greed at the employer level and making the job of the employer’s bar (seeking compliance with labor law) significantly easier.
When considered from all angles, PAGA should not just be recognized for helping the state become the place where all companies have a chance to succeed due to an even playing field but should also be recognized as the set of factors creating the chance for better enforcement of environmental laws, health and safety laws. The Supreme Court said it best when they noted, “The general intent of PAGA is to allow employees to pursue civil penalties through the legal system when the LWDA and related state agencies do not have the resources to do so, with a goal of increasing the deterrent effect of the civil penalties and compliance with labor laws.”
If you have questions or concerns regarding how PAGA affects you in the workplace or if you need to discuss labor code violations on the job, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.