PAGA Amendments Enacted as Part of California Budget Bill
On June 27, 2016, SB 836, a 96-page budget trailer bill, was signed into law. Sections 189-191 of this bill amend California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) (Labor Code sections 2699 et seq.) effective immediately. The changes are as follows:
- The Labor Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) now has 60 days to review a PAGA notice (increased from 30 days) and up to 180 days to conduct an investigation (increased from 120 days);
- A plaintiff cannot file a lawsuit alleging a PAGA violation until at least 65 days (up from 33 days) after sending the PAGA notice to the LWDA (unless the LWDA provides earlier notice [in less than 65 days] to the plaintiff that it does not intend to investigate, in which case the plaintiff could then proceed with filing a lawsuit at that time);
- For PAGA cases in which the LWDA notice is filed on or after July 1, 2016, the plaintiff must, within 10 days of filing a lawsuit, provide the LWDA with a file-stamped copy of the complaint;
- The LWDA must be provided with a copy of any proposed settlement of a PAGA claim at the time it is submitted to the court for approval;
- A copy of the court’s judgment and any other order that awards or denies PAGA penalties must be provided to LWDA within 10 days; and
- PAGA claim notices and employer cure notices or other responses must now be filed online, along with a $75 fee for any claim notice or initial employer response.
The stated intention of these amendments is to give the LWDA more oversight over PAGA actions and more opportunity for involvement, in response to calls for legislation to curb the onslaught of PAGA litigation. However, in this author’s opinion, it is doubtful that these amendments will cause any meaningful or significant change in the current landscape of PAGA litigation. All the amendments will accomplish is a one-month delay in a plaintiff’s ability to file a PAGA lawsuit and some increased revenue for the LWDA.
The full text of SB 836 is available here.