California Labor &
Employment Law Blog

Jun. 29 2009

California Supreme Court Clarifies Procedures for Representative Actions Under UCL and PAGA

Topics: Court Decisions

In two companion cases decided today, the California Supreme Court provided clarification on whether cases brought as "representative" actions under California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) must meet class action requirements. In Arias v. Superior Court (Angelo Dairy), the Court held that a plaintiff seeking relief on behalf of others under the UCL must satisfy the requirements for a class action set forth in California Code of Civil Procedure section 382. The Court based its decision on the plain language and voter intent behind Proposition 64, which amended the standing requirements of the UCL to preclude uninjured plaintiffs from seeking relief on behalf of others under the statute.

With respect to the PAGA claim, however, the Court held that an individual may pursue a representative claim for penalties without satisfying statutory class action requirements. The Court reasoned that PAGA, in contrast to the UCL, contains no express requirement that an individual comply with the requirements of Code of Civil Procedure section 382.The Arias decision is here.

In a companion case also decided today, Amalgamated Transit Union, et al v. Superior Court (First Transit, Inc.), the California Supreme Court held that a labor union that has not suffered actual injury under the UCL, and that is not an "aggrieved employee" under PAGA, may not bring a representative action under those laws on behalf of injured members. The Court reasoned that injured parties' claims under the UCL and PAGA may not be assigned to an uninjured party, and that an uninjured party does not have standing to sue under either law. The Amalgamated Transit decision is here.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent represents employers, including major food and retail companies, in all types of employment litigation: wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract, wage and hour (California Labor Code) and unfair competition. She also regularly counsels and advises California employers on issues of compliance with California and federal employment laws.
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