The California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) Foundation released an updated study on the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). The new data further confirmed that PAGA, a 2004 California law that allows employees to file suit against their employers for any perceived violation of the state’s 1,100-page labor code, has failed both employers and workers alike while trial attorneys cash in. 

The new report includes data from 15,321 additional documents obtained through a Public Records Act request dated November 2007 to January 2021. The updated study also includes details from 2,543 previously unrecorded and recently closed cases documenting a more complete picture of PAGA’s effects on Californians. The report was updated by the same authors who completed the first PAGA report, former California Department of Industrial Relations Director, Christine Baker, and former Cal/OSHA Chief, Len Welsh.

You can download the full study here. 

Here are a few key findings:

  • Under PAGA, workers get smaller rewards, employers pay more in legal fees, and the whole process takes twice as long. 
  • Cases decided by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) yield workers a 4.5 times larger payment than cases decided by PAGA lawsuits. Workers who filed LWDA cases pocketed an average of $5,700 compared to $1,300 from PAGA cases. 
  • Employers, however, spent less money on LWDA cases than PAGA cases. The average employer paid $1.1 million to address a PAGA case versus $790,000 for an LWDA-decided case. 
  • Trial attorneys appear to be the only winners in PAGA cases. PAGA attorneys yield 33% or more of the worker’s total recovery and average $372,000 per case. LWDA-decided cases do not award attorneys fees. 
  • Workers wait nearly twice as long to see results in PAGA cases compared to LWDA-decided cases. The average PAGA case drags on for 23 months while LWDA cases average 12 months. 

The report was supported by the CABIA Foundation.

The study provides the most recent and up-to-date evidence to further prove what many Californians already knew: Trial attorneys are the only people who benefit from PAGA. PAGA is a failed policy. Both workers and employers would be better off without it.