January 6, 2023

Industry Files Amicus Brief in PAGA Case Before California Supreme Court

A coalition of industry groups, including Western Growers, has filed an amicus curiae brief in the California Supreme Court in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, a case which will examine the ruling that purportedly provided relief to employers from California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act PAGA claims in the recent decision from the United States Supreme Court in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana.

The Supreme Court in Viking River enforced the parties’ arbitration agreement and ordered dismissal of the plaintiff’s nonindividual PAGA action, holding that statutory principles of standing precluded the employee from bringing claims on behalf of others in court while the employee was resolving an individual PAGA claim in arbitration. Thus, under Viking River, employers that implemented carefully drafted arbitration agreements could minimize PAGA risk. However, the California Supreme Court has accepted review in Adolph, placing at risk any relief provided by Viking River.

The amicus brief was filed by Californians for Fair Pay and Employer Accountability (CFPEA), the same organization that qualified the PAGA-repeal ballot measure for the 2024 ballot. The industry groups involved in CFPEA include the California Chamber of Commerce, California New Car Dealers Association, Western Growers Association, California Restaurants Association, California Grocers Association, California Retailers Association, California Manufacturers and Technology Association, and California Hospitals Association.

The brief makes several novel arguments. For example, the brief provides the California High Court with the relevant legal standard and framework the Court should use to examine the issues presented by the parties—a standard and framework not raised by the parties. CFPEA also illustrates for the court documented PAGA abuses and demonstrates how the plaintiff’s overly broad interpretation of the PAGA statute will lead to further abuses that undermine the State’s policy and the Legislative intent behind PAGA.