On July 22, the secretary of state reported that a ballot initiative to repeal the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) had qualified for the 2024 ballot after missing the signature verification deadline for the 2022 ballot.
In California, the number of signatures required for an initiated state statute is equal to 5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Signatures need to be verified at least 131 days before the election. The deadline for the November ballot was June 30.
The campaign announced on May 12 that it would target the 2024 ballot after missing the April 30 signature submission deadline. On June 9, the campaign filed signatures. The final random count of signatures concluded that 700,008 signatures of the 962,224 submitted were valid.
The initiative proposes repealing PAGA, which allows employees to sue employers and collect a share of monetary penalties for state labor law violations, and replacing it with a new law that would:
- require the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to be a party to all labor complaints;
- double statutory and civil penalties for willful violators;
- require that 100% of monetary penalties be awarded to harmed employees; and
- provide resources to employers to ensure labor compliance.
According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, approximately 5,000 PAGA notices are filed annually. Any penalties won under PAGA must be split between the employees (25%) and the state of California (75%).
During the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021-2022 term, the court partially struck down PAGA in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana by prohibiting workers to join together to sue their employer because it violated an employer’s right to arbitration under federal law.
The initiative has received endorsements from the California Chamber of Commerce, Western Growers Association, California New Car Dealers Association, and the California Restaurant Association.
The California Chamber of Commerce said, “The California Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act is an opportunity to reform labor law enforcement to prevent frivolous litigation while ensuring that workers receive the wages they are owed in a timely manner, plus any penalties.”
Two other ballot initiatives have also qualified for the 2024 ballot. The first would create a state Pandemic Early Detection and Prevention Institute, and the second would increase the state’s minimum wage to $18 by 2026. All three ballot initiatives originally targeted the 2022 ballot before qualifying for 2024.