In Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., the California Court of Appeal held employees may bring suits under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) for Labor Code violations not personally affecting the named employees, as long as other employees experienced the violations.
The Plaintiff, Huff, was employed as a security guard for the Defendant Employer, Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., an onsite security provider. After about a year of employment, Huff resigned. Huff then filed suit against Securitas under PAGA. In his claim, Huff specifically alleged violations to the Labor Code requiring immediate payment of wages upon termination of employment and weekly payment of wages to temporary employees. The trial court determined Huff was not a temporary employee, and therefore lacked standing to bring the claim. Thus, Securitas was granted a motion for summary judgement. Later, the trial court granted Huff a new trial. Securitas then appealed the grant of a new trial.
On appeal, the issue was whether Huff could bring a PAGA claim and sue for Labor Code violations that did not directly affect him. Securitas unsuccessfully argued that the PAGA statute only allows the PAGA representative to sue for violations that the representative has personally suffered. The PAGA statute states that an “aggrieved employee” is able to file suit on behalf of themselves and others. The statute also states that an “aggrieved employee” is “any person who was employed by the alleged violator and against whom one or more of the alleged violations was committed.” Because at least one of the violations that Huff had alleged had affected him personally, the Court of Appeal denied Securitas’ motion.
This decision opens Employers up to additional liability under PAGA. Because PAGA allows Plaintiffs to bring suit on behalf of both themselves and other employees, it allows for suits broader than the specific violations the named employee experienced. Therefore, even if the employee did not personally experience the Labor Code violations, the employer may still be liable to under PAGA.
Is your Company vulnerable to a PAGA suit? To find out what you can do to protect your Company against PAGA suits, and to ensure compliance with the Labor Code, contact the attorneys at Palmer Kazanjian Wohl Hodson LLP.