Last month, Bloomberg Law quoted Lauren Teukolsky in an article about the differing approaches taken by California Superior Courts and federal courts towards representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims in the months since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana.
In Viking River, the majority held that employers could force arbitration of workers’ individual claims under PAGA, a California law that allows workers to sue companies for employment law violations on behalf of the state. However, the decision was written in a way that essentially left the fate of representative PAGA claims in the hands of California’s lower courts.
For the most part, federal courts have strictly adhered to the Supreme Court’s ruling, sending individual claims to arbitration, and dismissing representative PAGA claims in over half of the decisions analyzed by Bloomberg Law. According to research conducted by Ms. Teukolsky, California’s state courts have taken a different tack. The article states:
“In sharp contrast, state trial courts dismissed representative claims after moving individual claims into arbitration in just six of 75 decisions collected and analyzed by Lauren Teukolsky of the plaintiff-side firm Teukolsky Law PC. Bloomberg Law independently reviewed those decisions […] The trend of state courts not dismissing non-individual PAGA claims is a huge victory for workers in the state of California,” Teukolsky said. The fate of PAGA will likely be decided in Adolph v. Uber, which is currently pending before the California Supreme Court.
Ms. Teukolsky is frequently cited in news publications for her commentary on developments in employment law, including a pair of Bloomberg Law and Daily Journal articles in 2022 that featured her commentary on Viking River. Ms. Teukolsky also discussed the case on several panels organized by the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the California Employment Lawyers Association, and the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the preeminent peer-selected organization of labor and employment lawyers in the United States. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s experience, click here.
To read the article in its entirety, click here. If you believe you’ve been treated unlawfully in the workplace and want to get in touch with our office, click here.
In December, Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in a Daily Journal article discussing the future of California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) in 2023.
PAGA is a California labor law that allows workers to sue their employers for labor violations on behalf of the state. In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana was believed by some to be a victory for employers, preventing employees from asserting PAGA claims affecting multiple employees. However, according to the article, research conducted by Ms. Teukolsky in the aftermath of Viking shows employees have fared well in California state courts:
“Superior court judges have rejected defense motions to dismiss PAGA claims for a plaintiff’s co-workers 92% of the time even as they have referred individual claims to arbitration, according to records compiled by Lauren K. Teukolsky of the plaintiff’s firm Teukolsky Law APC. Just six PAGA cases have been dismissed in state court in what she referred to as the ‘full Alito.’”
In federal courts, the picture painted by Ms. Teukolsky’s research is not as encouraging for workers. The article states:
“Employers have had a lot more success in federal court, where judges have dismissed PAGA claims six of 11 times, she added. But the vast majority of cases – 75, Teukolsky said – have been considered in state court.”
Ms. Teukolsky previously discussed the implications of Viking River on panels organized by the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the California Employment Lawyers Association, and the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the preeminent peer-selected organization of labor and employment lawyers in the United States. She is also frequently cited in news publications for her commentary on developments in employment law, including a June 2022 Bloomberg Law article that featured her commentary on Viking River. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s experience, click here.
To read the article in its entirety, click here. If you believe you’ve been treated unlawfully in the workplace and want to get in touch with our office, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky will sit on a panel on Saturday, December 3rd to discuss Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, a Supreme Court case that has changed the landscape of employment law. The program was organized by the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA). Ms. Teukolsky will be joined by a trio of widely respected arbitrators and mediators, the Honorable Amy D. Hogue, Monique Ngo-Bonnici, and Deborah Crandall Saxe, along with George S. Howard Jr., a partner at Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP.
The panelists will discuss the impact of Viking River on Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) claims, and share tips on litigating PAGA cases in arbitration. Ms. Teukolsky has analyzed almost 80 post-Viking trial court orders, and will share her insights on how courts have been ruling on motions to compel arbitration since June 2022, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Viking. She will also discuss several Court of Appeals decisions that have been handed down since Viking, and her predictions for how the California Supreme Court will rule in the highly anticipated Adoph v. Uber appeal, which will likely answer the question of PAGA standing addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Part IV of Viking.
Ms. Teukolsky previously discussed the implications of Viking River on a panel for CELA, a statewide organization that works to protect and expand the legal rights of workers, as well as for the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, the preeminent peer-selected organization of labor and employment lawyers in the United States. She is also frequently cited in news publications for her commentary on developments in employment law, including a June Bloomberg Law article that features her commentary on Viking River. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s experience, click here.
To register for the program, click here.
Lauren Teukolsky “Wage and Hour Case Notes” Published in the November 2022 edition of California Labor and Employment Law Review
Lauren Teukolsky’s “Wage and Hour Case Notes” were published in the November 2022 edition of the California Labor and Employment Law Review, describing six new decisions from California and U.S. appellate courts that affect wage-and-hour law. The column discusses summary judgment standards governing suitable seating cases, reverse auctions in PAGA cases, PAGA lawsuits following the settlement of individual Labor Code claims, and federal class certification standards.
Wage-and-hour law is a dynamic field, with new appellate decisions that regularly reshape the legal landscape. Ms. Teukolsky is an expert in California wage-and-hour law and federal wage-and-hour law, and speaks frequently on wage-and-hour topics at national and state conferences. Her “Wage and Hour Case Notes” are published on a quarterly basis by the California Lawyers Association.
To read Ms. Teukolsky’s article in its entirety, click here. If you would like to consult with Ms. Teukolsky on a wage-and-hour matter, use this page to get in touch.
Lauren Teukolsky’s “Wage and Hour Case Notes” were published in the July 2022 edition of the California Labor and Employment Review, describing seven new decisions from California and U.S. appellate courts that affect wage and hour law. The column discusses whether trial courts may dismiss PAGA claims on manageability grounds, the proper application of the exclusive concurrent jurisdiction doctrine, a district court’s error in determining whether CAFA jurisdictional threshold was met, the proper application of the “ABC” test in jury instructions, and a good-faith defense to the imposition of waiting time penalties.
Wage-and-hour law is a dynamic field, with new appellate decisions that regularly reshape the legal landscape. Ms. Teukolsky is an expert in California wage-and-hour law, and speaks regularly on wage-and-hour topics at national and state conferences.
If you would like to consult with Ms. Teukolsky on a wage-and-hour matter, use this page to get in touch.
Ms. Teukolsky will speak on a panel for a CELA Webinar on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana on July 18, 2022, from 12 pm to 1:15 pm. At the webinar, Ms. Teukolsky will unpack the Court’s decision and discuss the decision’s impact on pending and future cases brought under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Ms. Teukolsky will speak alongside co-panelist Michael Rubin of Altshuler Berzon LLP, and the discussion will be moderated by Mariko Yoshihara, CELA Legislative Counsel & Policy Director. To register for the webinar, click here.
Ms. Teukolsky has fought to protect employee’s rights for over 20 years and is a frequent speaker at conferences on topics of employment law and litigation. She is also frequently cited in news publications for her commentary on developments in the field and was most recently quoted in a June Bloomberg Law article on the Supreme Court’s decision in Viking River. To learn more about Ms. Teukolsky’s experience, click here.
CELA (California Employment Lawyers Association) is a statewide organization that works to protect and expand the legal rights of workers through litigation, education, and advocacy.
Bloomberg Law published an article on June 15, 2022, about the United States Supreme Court's recent ruling in Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana. The case centered on California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), a state labor law that authorized employees to sue over workplace violations in place of the state, even if they had agreed to resolve their disputes through individual arbitration. In an 8-1 decision, the Court limited PAGA’s reach but left the door open for state courts or lawmakers to restore it.
The article states: “The issue of whether PAGA provides for court adjudication of representative claims when an individual has to go to arbitration will come before California courts before state lawmakers have a chance to amend PAGA, said Lauren Teukolsky, an attorney at Teukolsky Law PC who represents workers.
‘PAGA lives to see another day,’ she said.”
Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg Law’s website.
McDonald's Employees Represented by Teukolsky Law Take First Step Towards Lawsuit to Protect Them from COVID-19
On May 19, 2020, six McDonald's employees represented by Teukolsky Law APC and Altshuler Berzon LLP filed administrative actions alleging that McDonald's has failed to take proper steps in three of its restaurants to protect its employees from COVID-19. Two of the restaurants are in Los Angeles; one is in San Jose. One of the Los Angeles restaurants, located in West Adams, had an outbreak of three employees who tested positive for COVID-19. The other Los Angeles restaurant, located in Monterey Park, had one worker test positive for COVID-19.
As alleged in the administrative actions, McDonald’s failed to take proactive steps, such as screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms, that would have prevented employees from working while sick. In the Monterey Park location, the employee who eventually tested positive for COVID-19 was allowed to return to work after calling out sick the day before – without any screening whatsoever, even though her managers knew she wasn’t feeling well in the middle of a global COVID-19 pandemic. Even after she went home sick, the actions allege that managers failed to warn her co-workers that she had come to work with COVID-19 symptoms, which means they touched the same surfaces she touched, and unknowingly exposed themselves and their family members.
The complaints further allege that McDonald's has failed to properly sanitize its restaurants, and has failed to provide its workers with basic protective equipment like masks and gloves. The complaints allege that there is not enough hand sanitizer or soap for workers to keep their hands clean. Managers are not enforcing proper handwashing, or permitting workers to take enough breaks to wash their hands.
Also today, workers in Chicago filed a class action lawsuit against McDonald's with similar allegations that McDonald's has failed to keep employees safe, thereby creating a public nuisance endangering the health and safety of the public at large.
If you believe that your employer is not taking proper steps to keep you safe from COVID-19, contact us today for a free consultation by calling (626) 522-8982 or through our website.
In a unanimous decision issued today in the closely-watched case of Lawson v. ZB, N.A., the California Supreme Court held that employees who file claims against their employers for penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act ("PAGA") to enforce the Labor Code may not seek to recover unpaid wages under Labor Code section 558 on behalf of employees. In the lower courts, the parties fought about whether a PAGA plaintiff subject to an arbitration agreement seeking both penalties and unpaid wages through Labor Code section 558 would be required to arbitrate the unpaid wages portion of their claim. The Cal Supremes cut off this argument at the knees, holding that a PAGA plaintiff may not even seek unpaid wages under Section 558 because the statute authorizes only the State, not a private plaintiff, to bring such a claim. Because the Court previously held that a PAGA plaintiff seeking penalties may not be compelled to arbitration, the Lawson plaintiff -- now stripped of her claim for unpaid wages -- could not be compelled to arbitration.
Sadly, this case is a big victory for employers. It limits the scope of the remedies a private plaintiff may seek under PAGA, the only remaining claim that can be brought in court (as opposed to arbitration) for Labor Code violations. The Supreme Court issued a bright-line ruling that private plaintiffs may seek only penalties (which have a one-year statute of limitations and which must be shared with the State) and can't seek unpaid wages (which arguably have a three-year statute of limitations and which go 100% to the employees). The case is a victory for employees only to the extent that the Court reaffirmed its previous ruling that PAGA claims for penalties may not be compelled to arbitration.
The practical effect of this ruling will be to send much more PAGA settlement money to the State. Previously, in a PAGA-only settlement, the plaintiff could designate a significant portion of the settlement money as unpaid wages and distribute that portion 100% to the employees. The plaintiff could designate the remaining portion as pure PAGA penalties, 75% of which must be shared with the State. Now, PAGA plaintiffs will no longer have the option to designate any portion of a PAGA-only settlement as unpaid wages, which means that 75% of the settlement must go to the State. This means less money in the hands of employees who actually suffered the violations. Hopefully, the State will use the money to hire more attorneys to enforce the Labor Code.
For you legal eagles out there, the critical passage of Lawson states: [T]he amount for unpaid wages referenced in section 558 is not part of that section’s civil penalty and is not recoverable through a PAGA action. Instead . . . this part of a section 558 citation represents compensatory damages. Section 558, in other words, authorizes only the Labor Commissioner to issue a citation that includes both a civil penalty and the same unpaid wages Lawson can alternatively recover under section 1194 through a civil action or an administrative hearing. But section 2699, subdivision (a) does not authorize employees to collect section 558’s unpaid wages through a PAGA action."
If you believe that you have not been paid all of the wages owed to you by your employer, contact us today for a free consultation.
Teukolsky Law founder Lauren Teukolsky was quoted in a Courthouse News story on the Private Attorneys General Act ("PAGA"), a California law that allows private attorneys to stand in the shoes of the State to bring labor enforcement actions against employers who break the law. PAGA is under attack by a consortium of businesses that are suing to have PAGA declared unconstitutional. Teukolsky Law represents a group of 57 nurses who have sued a Tenet-owned hospital in Templeton, CA for labor violations, including failing to provide rest breaks because the hospital was understaffed and the nurses did not want to leave their patients unattended.
Nine of the nurses have brought a PAGA action in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to represent all nurses at the hospital because they all signed arbitration agreements requiring them to bring their claims in secret, private arbitration proceedings. Courts currently allow employees to bring PAGA claims in open court, even if they have signed arbitration agreements. The arbitration agreements the nurses signed contain class action waivers, which means that the nurses are not allowed to bring an action to represent all of the nurses with similar claims at the hospital -- except through PAGA.
If business groups are successful in having PAGA declared unconstitutional, this could greatly impair the ability of employees to vindicate their workplace rights. Teukolsky Law will continue to fight every day for the rights of employees against powerful business lobbies that seek to take away their rights. If you believe that your rights have been violated, contact us today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.