California Law Helping Workers File Labor Claims Needs Reform

Commentary by Jennifer BarreraEight billion dollars. That’s the amount of money trial attorneys have leveraged from California employers over the last six years in Private Attorneys General Act settlements.

Employees rarely see that money, though. They generally take home a minimum amount while attorneys keep hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves.

The Labor Commissioner’s office agrees. In a 2019-20 budget disclosure, the agency noted that “the substantial majority of proposed private court settlements in PAGA cases reviewed by the (PAGA) Unit fell short of protecting the interests of the state and workers.”

So why does the California Legislature continue to defend this law?

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Jennifer Barrera took over as president and chief executive officer of the California Chamber of Commerce on October 1, 2021. Previously, she oversaw the development and implementation of policy and strategy as executive vice president and represented the CalChamber on legal reform issues. She led CalChamber advocacy on labor and employment and taxation from September 2010 through the end of 2017. As senior policy advocate in 2017, she worked with the executive vice president in developing policy strategy. Before joining the CalChamber, she worked at a statewide law firm that specializes in labor/employment defense. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law. See full bio.