California Supreme Court’s recent decision in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
The California Supreme Court’s recent decision in Adolph v. Uber Technologies, Inc. on July 17, 2023, highlights the value California places on the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). This case involves a former UberEats driver named Erik Adolph, who alleged he and other drivers were misclassified as independent contractors. In this decision, the Court held that an arbitration agreement affecting an individual claim does not remove the standing an aggrieved employee has to bring an action on behalf of other employees. This holding challenges the prior decision held by the U.S. Supreme Court in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, and reinforces employee rights.
PAGA was enacted in 2003 to allow aggrieved employees an opportunity to pursue an action on behalf of themselves, any other current or former aggrieved employees, and The State. It allows citizens to act as attorneys general in pursuing an action against an employer who is guilty of violating California employment and labor laws. The recent California decision determined that the language in PAGA does not allow for individual arbitration agreements to sever the rights it affords employees. Many employment contracts have arbitration clauses that require an employee and an employer to settle disputes outside of the traditional court process; however, California has established that these arbitration agreements will not protect employers from litigation in the event that they engage in Labor Code violations.
It is important to remember that signing an individual arbitration agreement does not affect an employee’s right to pursue an action on behalf of other current or former employees. The requirements to bring a PAGA claim are:
1. The individual must have been employed by the alleged violator
2. The employee must be one of the aggrieved parties
TONG LAW is available to assist employees in navigating labor and employment issues. We are here to help you protect your rights.