The labor union-backed authors of a new report scoff at potential abuses of the state’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), but hundreds of trial lawyers have pursued this modern-day gold rush. One of the state’s top PAGA lawyers even drives a Rolls Royce with the license plate MR. PAGA.
PAGA empowers them to use the power of the state to threaten massive penalties over arcane violations of the state’s 1,100-page labor code. More often than not, employers settle rather than risk financial ruin–netting a quick buck for all the Mr. and Mrs. PAGAs who make up California’s trial bar.
The report’s authors picked a series of unusual metrics to measure PAGA’s success, such as the state’s cut of PAGA financial penalties nearly tripling between 2018 and 2019. Let’s be clear: Employer law-breaking did not triple between 2018 and 2019; rather, these increased penalties are a function of the flood of new PAGA notices being filed by trial lawyers. The growing dollar figure attached to PAGA is proof-positive that the law needs closer scrutiny by the state legislature.