September 16, 2019
California’s Private Attorneys General Act allows an employee to bring a representative action seeking civil penalties for certain Labor Code violations.
In ZB, an employee filed a PAGA claim requesting unpaid wages under California Labor Code section 558, and the employer moved to compel arbitration of the claim. The Supreme Court held that section 558 does not provide employees with a private right of action and the unpaid wages afforded by section 558 cannot be recovered under PAGA because those wages are not civil penalties.
Accordingly, the Court held that, because the plaintiff had sought relief to which she was not entitled under PAGA, the trial court should have denied the motion to compel arbitration. The Court remanded to allow the trial court to consider whether to strike the unpaid wages allegations from the PAGA complaint or whether the plaintiff should be permitted to amend her complaint to request unpaid wages under an appropriate cause of action.