PAGA Reform Agreement Reached

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Labor and Immigration, Legislative

After months of discussions among California’s government officials, labor advocates, and businesses, an agreement has been reached to reform the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). The PAGA reform aims to help workers get fair compensation for labor claims while reducing unnecessary lawsuits that harm both employers and employees.

“The abusive litigation that PAGA enables is contributing to the loss of small family farms and the movement of agricultural production away from California,” Western Growers Association President & CEO, Dave Puglia said in a press release. “We applaud Governor Newsom for shepherding this important reform effort and urge the Legislature to pass it.”

PAGA Reform

PAGA was originally enacted in 2004 as a means to enable more effective labor dispute resolutions. However, groups like the Fix PAGA coalition have argued that “PAGA’s lawsuit-first approach has failed,” and that is has been unfair and ineffective in its implementation. Some of the core elements in the PAGA reform include increasing the employee’s share of penalties from 25 percent to 35 percent and requiring employees to have personally experienced the violations. The reform also establishes a cap on penalties for employers who proactively or reactively comply with the Labor Code.

Supporters of the Fix PAGA coalition include the Agricultural Council of California, Western Growers, Almond Alliance, and the Agricultural Council of California. The reform also seeks to protect small employers by expanding the right-to-cure process and improving the enforcement of labor claims by expediting hiring in the Department of Industrial Relations. It also gives courts more discretion over the scope of claims and evidence.

Governor Gavin Newsom has also noted his support for the PAGA reform, noting that it “works for both businesses and workers, and it will bring needed improvements to this system.” If the legislation reflecting the reform agreement is passed and signed by Governor Newsom, the PAGA reform measure will be withdrawn from the November ballot.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West