PAGA – Private Attorney’s General Act

24 Mar Will the court will award attorney’s fees in an unpaid overtime case if an employer is in clear violation?

It is complicated because many violations have their own rules about being able to get attorney fees. Let’s take overtime, for instance: A benefit of California law and overtime claims is that it has a one-way fee shifting provision. If you’re an employee who is not getting paid overtime and you sue and win, you may be able to get attorney fees against your employer. If you lose and don’t get anything, your employer cannot go after you for attorney fees. The idea behind the one-way fee shifting provision is that there is a public policy in place that employees should get paid for the work that they have performed, and they should get paid the amount that the law requires workers to be paid for the work that they’ve performed. If the employer could go after them for attorney fees, then employees would be scared to hold their employers accountable. There is also something called the Private Attorney General Act or PAGA. PAGA basically deputizes citizens to recover penalties on behalf of the state of California. If you win, you can keep 75% of the penalties, and you pay the state 25% of the penalties that you recover. It covers may types of claim under the labor code including overtime and minimum wage. In any type of claim that may not provide for attorney’s fees on its’ own, the Private Attorney General Act would step in and entitle you to attorney fees. If you believe that your employer has violated the California Labor Code, contact an employment lawyer today at the Khadder Law Firm for a free initial consultation....

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28 Feb Employment Disputes and Enforcement of a Mandatory Arbitration Clause

There are some exceptions to what can be forced into arbitration. One exception for now is representative actions under the Private Attorney’s General Act or PAGA. PAGA is a California law that basically deputizes individuals to seek penalties against employers that violate the California labor code. There are a few other minor exceptions, all within the State context. It is a little more complicated in the Federal context due to certain executive actions by the President. But, in the context of the state of California, it depends on what the arbitration agreement says. Most arbitration agreements are so broad that they include almost any kind of claim that can be forced into arbitration, and it doesn’t matter how egregious the conduct of the employer is; if there is an agreement between the employer and employee to arbitrate that type of claim, and there almost always is, then it can still be forced into arbitration. In that scenario, there is no way to get out of the arbitration agreement unless there is actually something unconscionable with the arbitration agreement itself. In terms of the types of claims or how egregious the claims are, it doesn’t really have an impact upon whether or not an employee will be forced to enter arbitration. If you are presented with an arbitration agreement by your employer, or if you have already signed an arbitration agreement and have a legal claim against your employer, contact an employment lawyer today at the Khadder Law Firm for a free initial consultation....

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12 Dec What if I’m afraid of making the overtime claim because I might lose my job?

This is a legitimate concern that many employees have, and unfortunately, there is no perfect protection against an employee who seeks to enforce their rights to overtime and other pay laws. The good news is that California law prohibits retaliation against an employee who asserts their rights under the wage and hour laws. California labor code 1102.5 (see below) is a particularly powerful tool for going after employers that retaliate against you for asserting your rights under the labor code. There are other provisions in the labor code that also prohibit retaliation, and provide that the person can sue on those claims, but labor code section 1102.5 is the most commonly used. In addition, because Section 1102.5 falls within the California labor code, an employee may also be able to sue under the Private Attorney General Act and recover attorney’s fees for any retaliation that he or she experienced because they sue to enforce their rights to overtime pay. < California Labor Code 1102.5 > Labor Code - LAB DIVISION 2. EMPLOYMENT REGULATION AND SUPERVISION [200 - 2699.5]  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 90. ) PART 3. PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES [920 - 1138.5]  ( Part 3 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 90. ) CHAPTER 5. Political Affiliations [1101 - 1106]  ( Chapter 5 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 90. ) 1102.5. (a) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee, or to another employee who has authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or from providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties. (b) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information, or because the employer believes that the employee disclosed or may disclose information, to a government or law enforcement agency, to a person with authority over the employee or another employee who has the authority to investigate, discover, or correct the violation or noncompliance, or for providing information to, or testifying before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation, regardless of whether disclosing the information is part of the employee’s job duties. (c) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation of or noncompliance with a local, state, or federal rule or regulation. (d) An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights under subdivision (a), (b), or (c) in any former employment. (e) A report made by an employee of a government agency to his or her employer is a disclosure of information to a government or law enforcement agency pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (b). (f) In addition to other penalties, an employer that is a corporation or limited liability company is liable for a civil penalty not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation of this section. (g) This section does not apply to rules, regulations, or policies that implement, or to actions by employers against employees who violate, the confidentiality of the lawyer-client privilege of Article 3 (commencing with Section 950) of, or the physician-patient privilege of Article 6 (commencing with Section 990) of, Chapter 4 of Division 8 of the Evidence Code, or trade secret information. (h) An employer, or a person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee because the employee is a family member of a person who has, or is perceived to have, engaged in any acts protected by this section. (i) For purposes of this section, “employer” or “a person acting on behalf of the employer” includes, but is not limited to, a client employer as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 2810.3 and an employer listed in subdivision (b) of Section 6400. (Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 792, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2016.) If your employer has retaliated against you for making an overtime claim, contact an employment lawyer today at the Khadder Law Firm for a free initial consultation....

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