SACRAMENTO – Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen issued a warning in a recent op-ed in The Modesto Bee explaining that businesses in her county have spent millions settling Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) lawsuits, taking away money that would be better spent in other places that serve more purpose.
“Several well-known, award-winning businesses in our county have spent millions settling PAGA lawsuits, taking that money away from being able to reinvest in their businesses and employees, not to mention in our community,” wrote Olsen. “It’s time that we, as a community, call upon state leaders to fix issues with PAGA claims.”
Olsen called PAGA an existential threat to businesses and is calling for reforms. Her warning comes in the wake of Gov. Gavin Newsom signing Senate Bill 142, which expands the rights of lactating mothers in the workplace, requiring employers to set aside space. Some employer attorneys say PAGA lawsuits will increase due to the provisions of SB 142.
Jennifer Barrera | California Chamber of Commerce
A California Chamber of Commerce leader says PAGA has been an issue with businesses for a long time.
“The Private Attorney General lawsuits under the labor code has been a concern for the business community for years and it’s just growing with the addition of new laws in the labor code,” said Jennifer Barrera, executive vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce. “Basically, any amendment to the labor code can potentially create a new avenue for litigation under PAGA.”
It’s not a case of whether or not a push for reform of the law will take place, but whether efforts will be successful as previous attempts have been sidelined due to lobbying efforts of supporters.
“There’s been multiple efforts to amend the Private Attorney General Act to add some common sense reforms to it, but those bills have all been stopped in their first policy committees by the trial attorneys and labor unions who generally oppose it,” said Barrera.
Olsen, along with many others across the state, are hoping that their message sticks in an effort to push through business-favorable changes to the bill.