United States: PAGA Claim Defeated Based On Insufficient Notice To The LWDA

Last month, the California Court of Appeal determined in Khan v. Dunn-Edwards Corp., 2018 Cal.App. LEXIS 44 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Jan. 4, 2018)(certified for publication), that a former employee's claim under the Private Attorneys General Act ("PAGA") failed due to insufficient notice to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency ("LWDA").

Plaintiff's Lawsuit & LWDA Letter

Plaintiff sued his former employer, Dunn-Edwards, in a proposed class action claiming that he, and others similarly situated, did not receive their final pay in a timely manner pursuant to Labor Code sections 201-203. After the lawsuit was pending, Plaintiff provided the following notice to Dunn-Edwards and the LWDA:

This correspondence shall constitute written notice under Labor Code § 2699.3 of my claims against my former employer, Dunn-Edwards Corporation ("Dunn Edwards" or "Defendant"). Specifically, I allege that Dunn Edwards:

  1. Violated Labor Code § 226(a) by failing to identify all of the required information on my final paycheck stub/itemized wage statement that I received, including but not limited to the pay period begin date, the correct pay date, and the total hours worked.
  2. Violated Labor Code §§ 201–203 by failing to pay all of my earned wages immediately upon termination and failure to pay waiting time penalties as a result thereof.

Plaintiff's notice made no mention of any other Labor Code violations and did not reference any other current or former employee besides himself.

After the LWDA provided notice that it did not intend to investigate the allegations in his notice, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding a cause of action under PAGA. He specifically alleged that Dunn-Edwards' final pay practices applied to all of its former employees. Plaintiff also dismissed his individual claim after the court found he was compelled to arbitrate it.

PAGA's Notice Requirement

Under the PAGA, an "aggrieved employee" may file a representative action "on behalf of himself or herself and other current and former employees" to recover civil penalties for violations of the Labor Code that otherwise would be assessed and collected by the LWDA. For all provisions of the Labor Code for which a civil penalty is not specified, PAGA creates a default civil penalty. The civil penalties available under PAGA are in addition to any other remedies available under state or federal law. Any civil penalty recovered is paid 75 percent to the LWDA and 25 percent to aggrieved employees.

Before bringing a PAGA claim, a plaintiff must comply with administrative procedures outlined in section 2699.3, requiring notice to the LWDA and allowing the employer an opportunity to cure unspecified violations not listed in section 2699.5. Recently, the California Supreme Court explained that: "[a]s a condition of suit, an aggrieved employee acting on behalf of the state and other current or former employees must provide notice to the employer and the responsible state agency 'of the specific provisions of [the Labor Code] alleged to have been violated, including the facts and theories to support the alleged violation.'" Williams v. Superior Court, 3 Cal.5th 531, 545 (2017). The evident purpose of the notice requirement is to afford the LWDA the opportunity to decide whether to allocate scarce resources to an investigation, a decision better made with knowledge of the allegations an aggrieved employee is making and any basis for those allegations. Notice to the employer serves the purpose of allowing the employer to submit a response to the agency, again thereby promoting an informed agency decision as to whether to allocate resources toward an investigation. Id. at 545-46.

Trial Court Grants Dunn-Edward's Motion for Summary Judgment

The Trial Court granted Dunn-Edward's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Plaintiff's notice to the LWDA was insufficient because, "unless the group is identified" the notice does not specify the aggrieved employees.

Plaintiff appealed, arguing that his notice was sufficient even though he limited it to his claims "because plaintiff is a proxy of the state," and his notice should be "assumed to being brought on a representative capacity."

Court of Appeal Upholds Trial Court's Dismissal Based On Insufficient LWDA Notice

The Court of Appeal determined that the trial court properly granted summary judgment. It noted that because Plaintiff's notice expressly applied only to him, it failed to give the LWDA adequate opportunity to decide whether to investigate the action, and it failed to provide Dunn-Edwards with an adequate opportunity to respond to the agency since the notice only suggested an individual violation.

Plaintiff relied on two unpublished decisions in an attempt to demonstrate that his LWDA notice was sufficient. However, the Court distinguished those cases, finding that the notice in those cases suggested claims on behalf of multiple employees.

Takeaway

PAGA claims are becoming increasingly popular after the California Supreme Court found in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation, 59 Cal.4th 348, that these claims could not be compelled to arbitration. The potential exposure of PAGA penalties can quickly add up for employers. This decision provides support for attacking a deficient LWDA notice in an attempt to eliminate or reduce the potential exposure of a PAGA claim at the beginning of the lawsuit.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
26 Sep 2018, Seminar, San Francisco, United States

Please join us for Sheppard Mullin's Labor & Employment Law Update & Happy Hour Seminar Series.

28 Sep 2018, Other, Los Angeles, United States

Leaders today don't just have to worry about nefarious cybercriminals getting "inside" their firewalls; there's an entire ecosystem of SAAS partners, third party vendors and suppliers, and all the hardware from switches to POS terminals that need to be monitored.

9 Oct 2018, Other, Los Angeles, United States

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has opened for business in Dallas to proudly serve the Texas business community.

 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions