August 19, 2022

California Supreme Court to Review PAGA in light of Viking River

As we previously reported, the United States Supreme Court in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, delivered a victory for California employers, albeit one that may be short lived. The high court held that employers can compel arbitration of a plaintiff’s “individual claim” under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA), resulting in the remaining “collective claims” brought by PAGA representative claims being dismissed for lack of standing.

However, the California Supreme Court has granted review in a case that may put the relief afforded by Viking River Cruises about PAGA standing in doubt. In Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc. the state high court will consider whether California law allows an aggrieved party who is forced into arbitration, to maintain standing to pursue the nonindividual—and most lucrative for plaintiffs’ attorneys —aspect of the employee’s PAGA claim.

The California Supreme Court’s decision will likely determine the continuing viability of PAGA claims and whether arbitration agreements can provide employers with the same protection in PAGA actions that they do in class action cases.

Should the plaintiff prevail in the California Supreme Court, PAGA will be alive and well, and the 2024 PAGA ballot-fix will be the only path to both protect businesses from shakedown lawsuits that line the pockets of plaintiffs’ lawyers and protect workers’ rights.