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PAGA Statute of Limitations
(Definition & 6 Key Features Explained)

The statute of limitations for lawsuits filed under PAGA, or the Private Attorneys General Act, is generally one year from the date the alleged Labor Code violations occurred.
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What is PAGA?

The Private Attorneys General Act is a California law that allows private individuals, acting as "private attorneys general," to bring legal actions to enforce certain provisions of the state's labor code on behalf of themselves and other employees. PAGA is also sometimes referred to as the "Sue Your Employer" law.

PAGA Functions

Key features of PAGA include:

  • Private Enforcement of Labor Code Violations - PAGA allows private individuals, referred to as "aggrieved employees," to act in lieu of the Labor Commissioner and bring a legal claim in order to recover civil penalties for violations of the California Labor Code.
  • Penalties for Violations - PAGA allows workers to seek civil penalties for Labor Code violations (i.e. wage and hour violations, meal and rest break violations, etc.). The penalties recovered are shared between the Plaintiffs and the state.
  • Representative Actions - Private Attorneys General Act actions are representative actions, meaning that the aggrieved employee brings the claim on behalf of themselves and other current or former employees who have experienced similar Labor Code violations.
  • Notification Requirement - Prior to entering a PAGA lawsuit, the aggrieved employee must notify the employer and the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA), identifying the alleged Labor Code violations. LWDA may then proceed to investigate the claims.
  • Civil Penalties - The civil penalties recovered in a PAGA lawsuit are separate from any compensation or other damages granted to individual employees for the actual harm suffered. The civil penalties are intended to punish the employer for violations of the labor code.
  • No Individual Right of Action - PAGA does not create new substantive rights for the employee. Rather, it provides a mechanism for private parties to bring representative actions to enforce the existing Labor Code.

How Far Does PAGA Go Back?

In most cases, PAGA allows for the recovery of civil penalties for Labor Code violations that occurred up to 1 year before the filing of the claim. However, the specific time frame within which PAGA lawsuits can reach back may depend on the nature of the alleged violations and the specific provisions of the California Labor Code that are implicated. Additionally, the statute of limitations for PAGA claims can be tolled (extended) in certain circumstances.

How Do I File a Complaint with PAGA?

If you wish to file a PAGA lawsuit, you are required to provide notice to your employer and the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) before filing the claim. The LWDA has the option to investigate the alleged violations, and if it chooses not to, you may proceed with the lawsuit.

Because laws can change and interpretations may evolve, you should consult with an employment attorney to get the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the statute of limitations for PAGA claims and how far back a PAGA lawsuit can reach in your specific situation.

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