Google recently settled a lawsuit under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for a whopping $27 million. But it was an empty victory for the company’s aggrieved employees – who each received less than an $80 payout. You don’t have to look much further for evidence that lawsuits filed under California’s misguided PAGA law have become little more than a cash cow for trial attorneys. This is far from the first time million-dollar settlements have left employees with little more than coal in their stocking – while attorneys reap the real monetary rewards.
For example, in Price v. Uber Technologies, Inc., the average Uber driver was awarded just $1.08, while the plaintiff’s attorneys were awarded over $2.3 million. And last year, Walmart settled a $5.9 million PAGA lawsuit that accused the company of not providing “suitable seating for cashiers.” In typical PAGA fashion, the actual aggrieved employees received substantially less than the millions that went to trial lawyers and the state.
Since PAGA’s inception in 2004, the number of lawsuits has skyrocketed by over 1,000 percent. This surge in litigation isn’t a reflection of a sudden uptick in labor law violations. It underscores a much more insidious problem wherein PAGA has incentivized the pursuit of frivolous claims for financial gain.